Wednesday, November 11, 2015

John M. Mossman Lock Museum

A visit to this museum has been a long time coming! I had heard of the existence of the collection roughly a year ago from Peter Hajek, and only recently got around to visiting it, and I'm very glad I did! My fellow collector-in-crime, Daniel Bain, couldn't be more enthusiastic about taking a trip over to the collection with me. So after some false-starts and various logistical errors, we were soon walking down 44th Street in the direction of the museum. The John M. Mossman Lock Collection, is a collection of roughly 400 locks, housed in the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesman just off 6th Avenue on 44th Street in the great city of New York. The staff of the museum is incredibly accommodating and passionate about the collection. 

Time Locks!

The collection itself is mainly antique time-locks, used on old bank vaults, but they have a range of locks from as old as 2000 BC to the modern era. It's impossible to appreciate the collection in one visit. You don't even know what you're looking at most of the time! Thankfully, the curators have taken the time to compile a book entitled "The Lure of The Lock" which illustrates and details every piece in the collection, including a history of John M. Mossman, and a plethora of other information pertinent to locks and lock collecting. You can order this book by contacting the curator through the General Society's website and I highly recommend it for any lock collector.

Daniel and I
H.C. Jones 10 Step Trick Padlock

Daniel and I ran around the museum like two children in a candy store. Alright, that may be an exaggeration, but I certainly felt like a child in a candy store. The ingenuity of some of the mechanisms housed inside is mind blowing! Much to mine and Daniel's dismay, the curator was not working on the particular day we went to visit and we weren't able to handle any of the locks, but that didn't stop us from spending a few hours in awe of the collection! Not only that, we simply have another excuse to revisit the collection, some time soon. We both purchased a copy of the book, and planned on getting lunch afterwards, but we spent longer in the museum than intended and Dan had an important meeting to attend.

What Am I Looking At?
Clarke 12 Button Combination Lock

Prison Lock
Functional Bank Vault Model

It was wonderful catching up with Dan in the presence of some truly impressive mechanisms. If you find yourself visiting NY, definitely add this little hidden gem to your itinerary of places to visit. I'm so grateful I was alerted to it's existence by Peter Hajek, and want to spread the word with fellow enthusiasts. I wish I was able to post up more photos, but the pictures don't even do it justice. Visit this collection, you will not regret it!


  1. Astonishing! I'll definitely have to try and get myself there some day. Although I'm a puzzle person I can really appreciate the mechanical beauty of many of those.

    1. Hey Oli!

      It's more than worth visiting. If you find yourself in the area, drop me a line and I'll be happy to accompany you.

  2. If I knew there was such nice museum in NY, I would have been into when I was there.... ;-)

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