Antique Roadshow Item #274: U.S. Eagle Padlock

I defy DDG to google this one.

I have a padlock that has some interesting characteristics. It appears to be a solid lump of brass, not put together in wafers like a standard Master padlock. Except for the small cylindrical opening at the bottom where the key goes, this is a solid piece of metal. There is no way to take this lock apart so I am curious as to how it was put together in the first place. Also, the key will not come out of the lock unless the shackle is in the locked position. It has “U.S. Eagle” and a serial number stamped on the side.

Anybody know much about locks, and whether or not this one is anything special?

Is this it?

You could try these folks:

The Lock Museum of America
230 Main Street, Route 6
Terryville, Connecticut 06786-0104
Fax & Telephone: (860) 589-6359

Their museum includes The Eagle Lock Company Room.

Here are some Eagles.

The Lock Museum of America that Ringo mentioned is not open during winter months and will reopen in May.

Some other resources if we don’t turn up anything:

Ebay has the following category, you might keep an eye on:

Home > All Categories > Collectibles > Furnishings, Knives & Tools > Locks, Keys

A bibliography for books of interest to lock collectors (it lists several Eagle catalogs that have been reprinted):

You might be able to get this book at your library or through inter-library loan:

Antique Padlocks by Jack Roberts

West Coast Lock Collectors Association

It’s very close to that, but in better shape so it’s probably not as old. It has some serious weight to it, too. Maybe I should take some pictures of it and send it to the nice folks in Terryville.

[sitting here eating angel food cake while my minions run errands for me]


Eh, it just looks like an ordinary brass padlock to me. Why should it be anything special? Is there some reason you think it’s an antique? All of standard brass padlocks could be described as being of solid brass with only a hole on the bottom for the key. What do you mean, “not put together in wafers”?

What are you asking? “How padlocks work?”

What locks look like inside.


Stuff about padlocks.

More about locks.

Since the Museum is closed for the winter I gave them a call to see what there message said.

“The Museum is closed for the winter, it will reopen May 1, 2002. If you need any information, call Tom Hennessey at 860-582-6897.”

If you want, he could probably put you on the path to an answer (or he could be grumpy, who knows).

Well, If it’s a solid piece of brass, how did they get the works inside? I am used to Master locks that look like they are made from a dozen thin plates or wafers that are stacked into a pile and then bolted together, just like in figure 1 of your first link (what locks look like inside). You can see how the first plate has been ramoved to reveal the innards, and you can see the eight pins/bolts that hold all the plates together.

Plus, the way the key won’t come out unless the shackle is secured… I had never seen a lock behave like that before.

<walks away sulking because his lock isn’t special>

what are you wanting to know how it was originally assembled?
I can help I think Although it has been a while since I have fiddled with a Eagle padlock. Here is one of the ways I know of that Padlocks are Assembled. Without inspecting your padlock I cannot confirm it completly. (If I find an old eagle padlock in the shop monday I will look)
Here we go :slight_smile:
A mold of the lock body is poured and filled with Brass. There is then 4 main holes drilled into the body. 2 from the top where the shackle is later inserted. One where the cylinder later goes. and One thru the side that goes thru the Cylinder hole already drilled.
Then on the side 4 or 5 minor holes are drilled into the body till they line come thru to the cylinder hole, these smaller holes will later contain the pins and springs.
A groove in machined in the back of the Cylinder chamber.
Then a ball bearing is incerted into the large side hole.
The cylinder is then pinned to a key and inserted into the CYlinder housing hole. There is a spring loaded half-moon clip that is pushed into the cylinder that will pop back out into the machined groove mentioned earlier.
The shackle is incerted into the pivot side on the top.
Then a second ball bearing goes in the Main side hole.
Shackle is closed and the main side hole is filled with a brass plug, ground down and brushed smooth.
Top pins and springs are inserted into the smaller side holes which are then plugged in the same fashion as the Large side hole.

If you want to test this padlock out to see if I am correct in its assembly process. Take the side of the padlock that would be considered the “top” of the keyway. (look in keyway and you will see small pins that line up with the serated edge of the key) Go to a Bench grinder and use the steel brush part and brush, brush and do some more brushing. Once you brush the finish off the side you should see Small circular indentations or anomilies. These are the plugs mentioned above.

Hope that helps.


Just because you can’t see where the plates come together doesn’t mean there is no seam. A top or bottom plate, or perhaps a side plate, could simply have been brazed in place and then ground down to form a smooth and apparently monolithic piece.

Or what Osip said.

um yeah or what UncleBeer said.

Your lock sounds very much like an older government issue lock, they are typically of the style you describe and are probably not of great value, (except on eBay, of course.) It may be a postal type or military issue.