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Celebrating 182 Years of Yale

Discover the Heritage of Yale

Keys and locks are a fundamental part of our everyday lives. We open and close different doors throughout the day - from locking up your home when you leave, opening the door to your office, locking your car, and even securing your garage door.

‘Locking up’ can be an integral part of your daily routine. And we’ve all had that feeling of dread before, when heading out for the day or going on holiday for a couple of weeks thinking, “Did I lock the front door?”.

An effective high-quality lock can keep your possessions, home, and family safe and secure. This complex invention, which has made securing our valuables much easier, was designed and developed by Yale. Over the past 182 years the humble lock has been used globally and developed for different uses, and to provide different levels of security.

Here, the expert team from Yale look into where the trusted lock maker started and the heritage behind the brand. With some interesting facts you might not be aware of and information on where it all began, you can discover the heritage of Yale.

Where it all began...

In the early 1840s in Newport, New York, Linus Yale Sr (1797-1858) start designing and selling locks. His first known lock patent is dated October 20th, 1843, and this year now marks the creation of Yale locks.

The Yale family established and revolutionised lock manufacturing in three stages – the cylinder lock (1844), followed by the first pin tumbler principle and finally a padlock with a five-pin tumbler (1857).

In 1865, Linus Yale Jr. (1821 – 1868) designed a lock with a cylinder with four pin tumblers. He then improved this construction until he received the famous patent for a lock with a round cylinder, five pin tumblers and flat key.

This revolutionised lock design, Linus Yale Jr.’s innovation, has made locks considerably safer, making it possible to divide up into individual components enabling separate production and easier exchange for repair when needed.

Over the 182 years, more products were developed and created to provide security solutions for homes, businesses and individuals. And still today, product development continues to play a leading role in the business and remains at the forefront of Yale.

“Lock Boxes”

In 1869, a booklet from Yale & Towne presented the current range of Yale pin-tumbler cylinder locks. At this time, Yale was manufacturing three products: Yale bank locks, Yale cylinder locks and Yale post-office lockers.

The Yale pin-tumbler lock was designed and manufactured in only seven varieties: store door lock, rim and mortice night latch, cupboard, chest, desk and drawer lock.

The Yale “lock boxes” were such a successful invention they were taken by post offices around the US at the time, which resulted in a long-standing government contract. Soon, the company took over production of all the equipment needed in post offices, making the “post section” of the business the most important department of the company.

The second most important product line was bank locks, which also came from Linus Yale Jr. The range continued to improve and develop over time and the tamper-proof Yale lock became incredibly successful and has since come into universal use in all leading banks.

First World War

During the First World War, like many other companies, Yale & Towne became involved in arms production. As well as large quantities of normal products, the company also manufactured rifle grenades, pumps, fuse-setters, cavalry bits, fasteners, buckles, etc, as well as special parts for mines and gas nozzles for the United States Government.

Prestigious Projects

In 1929, Yale & Towne became the largest locks and door closer manufacturer in the world. They were so well established that they had an exclusive showroom for Yale products in the midtown Manhattan skyscraper, The Chrysler Building.

The Chrysler Building, Woolworth, the Metropolitan Life, the New York Life, and the Lincoln Building were all equipped with Yale products, some of Yale’s most prestigious projects at the time.

World of Tomorrow

Between 1939-40 Yale & Towne participated in the World’s Fair, which took place in the Flushing Meadows Part, New York City. The exhibition ran under the motto if “Building the World of Tomorrow, For Peace and Freedom – all Eyes to the Future” and the event had almost 45 million visitors.

The main exhibit in the “Metals Building” category in the central area of the world exhibition was more than 2,000 square feet large and displayed a wide range of Yale’s high quality mechanical products, as well as some innovative electrical devices.

The Bright Lights of Disneyland

During the 1960s, Yale was launching new products to the markets, and embarked on an exciting sponsorship for the opening of the infamous Walt Disney theme park, ‘Disneyland’. This sponsorship enabled Yale & Towne to set up shop on the “main street” of the theme park.

The sponsorship allowed the business to have a presence in a bustling theme park where it was seen by those who visited Disneyland. It was listed in the “special shows and exhibits” in the Disneyland 1958 souvenir book, and the shop existed for more than 10 years.

Willenhall, at the heart of British lock making 

In 1963, the European market became more important for Yale locks. Willenhall became the centre of activity for Yale. In the 1970, there was a significant increase in burglaries, which in turn, created a big boost for sales of locks. The facilities in place at Willenhall weren’t big enough to cope with the demand and so the factory was expanded and modernised, which helped increase production. And Willenhall continues to play an important role in lock manufacturing today.

The Future of Yale

In 2000, Yale became part of the ASSA ABLOY family. Yale was to focus on residential products and the security of private accommodation. Yale evolved and developed from being a lock manufacturer to being a global market leader providing protection for homes and giving peace of mind.

Yale’s dynamic approach and passion for innovation has helped with the growth of the business over the last 182 years. Now with an expansive portfolio of products and development in smart home products, Yale continues to lead the way and grow in the security sector.

To find out more about the range of products available from Yale, or to find out more please visit Yale Home

*All historic information was taken from Yale’s Book of 180 Years, September 2020