JAMES GIBBONS LTD - From 1897 to 1918
||This photo of Gibbons staff
was probably taken at about the turn of the century. There
are 39 people in it. They are probably the office staff.
(photo by courtesy of Frank Spittle)
On the 29th November 1899 Mr. F J J Gibbons was granted a patent for
the "Mastership" two-keyhole lock. This made master keying of
mortice locks more secure, as the master key was inserted into a
separate keyhole from the ordinary key and was of a different form.
This meant that a master key could not be made by the simple process of
filing off parts of one of the ordinary keys.
A Gibbons' catalogue of 1952 explains the Mastership system:
"In making locks to differ under the old system, the levers (A) of the
locks must all be made the same so that the master key may go over them
and the only variance that is made on the locks is on the wards (B).
It is thus simple for the ward to be filed out and an ordinary key made
into a master key. This has already been done at a large hotel in
||With the two keyhole system all the locks are
varied on the levers, so that one key does not indicate in the
slightest manner what another key may be on the building.
It is therefore impossible to alter an ordinary key into a
master; they vary in size the master key being larger than
You could also have a three tier system so that the ordinary keys
would, for example, only open one hotel room door, the master key would,
open all the doors on one floor of the hotel but not those on any other
floor, but the Grand Master Key could open any door on any floor.
The original "Mastership" lock was replaced in 1960 by a new patent
system for a wardless lock on a single keyhole system. The "New
Mastership" system achieved the same degree of security without the
complication of the larger size of the two key lock.
|At some point in the early 20th century Gibbons started
making safes. If they had been making them in 1897 the
book referred to on the previous page would have mentioned
This photo (and the one of the mansion itself) has been
provided by Siamak Soroushian and shows a Gibbon safe in a
100 year old mansion in the ancient city of Kerman in
Iran. Mr. Soroushian inherited this house from his
father and his grandfather.
||And this is the mansion where the safe is located.
mansion is now on the register of historical-cultural
foundations of Iran. The safe may have been installed
when the house was built.
This safe is the only Gibbons safe of which we currently have
evidence. It is also of interest as showing a trade connection
between Iran and the UK and is the only evidence we currently have of
trade between Wolverhampton and Western Asia.
Gibbons had over 200 patents and registered designs. In
addition, by the mid 1920s, they had designed and made a "Thief Proof
Rim Night Latch" to combat the competition from the "Yale Cylinder Pin