When we bought our 1913 Queenslander I was thrilled to see that most of the original rim locks were still in place, albeit hiding under layers of paint. There were two in the front doors, one of the cast iron "box" style and five of the rounded, "pressed" casing design in the interior doors. Carefully restored they can add alot of character to a classic house and I was keen to uncover their original finish and maker's marks.
My research has produced very little information on the history of lock manufacturing and imports to Australia. Well into the 1900s most door and window hardware was shipped from the UK and US although there are examples of locally made "Carpenter" style rim locks. Innovation was rampant and there are thousands of patents and probably hundreds of manufacturers with their own brands and designs. One of our locks has a maker's mark with the words "Challenge Lock, Warranted" but a web search draws a blank for any contemporary reference. Another is marked "The Reliance Patent" but the patent number doesn't score any hits in the US, Australian or British patent databases. I can find very little information at all on these great pieces of vintage hardware. Considering how widely the locks were used, and the vibrant market for period hardware, this is a bit surprising.
Interior lock, before and after restoration
The restored locks look great and truly bring out the age and beauty of the doors. Details on the procedure are provided in the above video. If you have a period house but the original rim locks are missing you can always source vintage pieces or reproductions, just search your local salvage shop or ebay. Second hand locks are quite commonplace but the keeps can be hard to come by. You can also get a key cut for your salvaged lock at a specialist locksmith to complete the installation. Once restored, the locks are easily maintained with a dose of WD40 once or twice per year.
Best of luck, and if you can shed any more light on the history of these great pieces of antique hardware please let me know.
Brisbane Courier 1912, the Steamer Shropshire delivers another shipment of locks for further distribution by hardware merchant R.J Wilson, Queen St. Click to enlarge.
Note - I've received quite a few reader comments on the locks - if you've attempted one of these restorations or if you have any further information to add I'd be keen to hear from you.