Payphone locks. A subject near and dear to our hearts-NOT!
There is an auction currently on Ebay that is an example of just about everything that can be done WRONG to a payphone vault lock.
The auction is listed as a WESTERN ELECTRIC - GRAY PAY STATION - 15A VAULT DOOR LOCK.
An original Western Electric 15A vault lock with a numbers matching key is VERY RARE and would be VERY expensive. Hence the high 'Buy It Now' price on the auction.
In reality that lock and key are NOT a Western Electric 15A. For whatever reason someone took a Western Electric 12B lock with a numbers matching key and put the internal parts of the 12B into the marked case of a 15A.
Right off the bat the person who did it knows absolutely NOTHING about Western Electric vault locks and assumes that the person buying it would know even less. If you take a close look at the key it's stamped with a 'B'. Think maybe that's a HINT it's not for a 15A?
If you are familiar with the various Western Electric locks you know that a 15A was A LEVERS ONLY LOCK. It had no pins. The addition of pins was covered by a patent issued to George Long (Gray MFG.). Look closely at the third picture in the auction. It clearly shows the wavy design on the right hand side of the key. The waves correspond to the height of the pins that would have been in the 12B lock. The 'cuts' on the left hand side of the key correspond to the height of the levers. So that means the key and the internal parts of that lock were for a pin/lever lock. Definitely NOT a 15A.
If all the levers had been put in the lock when it was rebuilt you should see a lever (brass colored) right behind the hole in the front of the lock, to the right of the nose piece where the key goes in. You don't, so all the levers weren't used. It's also obvious that the lock was opened by the grind marks around the heads of the rivets. In short that lock is CRAP!
Apparently, the seller was told all this in the past by Richard Pitzer . The seller saw fit to post Richards comments in the auction after the fact. One might wonder why he didn't just pull the auction. FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
The seller further states that:
"Still confusing to me what collector Pitzer has stated, since the 12B lock is also a Western Electric lock."
By that statement the seller proved he knows NOTHING about the history of payphone locks. Of course the 12B lock was also manufactured by Western Electric, AFTER they paid George Long for the use of his patent many years later
What was the reason the lock was created? WHO KNOWS. When was it created and by who? Who knows.
However, if it looks like a duck, walks like duck and smells like duck, it ain't a chicken.
Draw your own conclusions.