A lesson in history: The Aubin Trophy

I love to scour the history of the Locksmith Industry and during a search, I found a trophy called “The Aubin Trophy” which is made out of keys, locks, and parts. I was fascinated! Not only is this is a very unique and antique/old trophy, but the way it was constructed is impressive… and it has a lot of mystery to it too. The research I have done doesn’t always match, making this even more interesting!

The Aubin trophy was created in 1849 for display at the Great Exhibition of 1851 by Charles Aubin. He used more than 3,000 parts using locks and their connecting mechanisms. The trophy is built of solid brass and comprises of 43 tiered locks and topped by a Joseph Bramah radial lock with a large ornate key. The hexagonal base supports the center column about 36″ high. The three circular platforms are horizontally attached to the column at different heights.

Aubin Trophy

Each of the vertical faces of the base contains a lock that is operated by its own keys. The circular platform contains various locks (16 on the lowest platform, 12 on the next platform, and 9 on the top platform). Each lock on each platform is arranged so the bolt of the lock is outward from the axis of the machine. Each lock has its own key inserted in the keyhole and is attached to the key pin.

Within each of the platforms and the central column is a delicate mechanism of levers, pinions, and racks, all of which are linked to the barrel of the Bramah lock on top. According to the research I found, “Operation of this by its key causes horizontal rotation and rotary movement of the vertical rod inside the centre column. At each platform level this rod operates on the racks and pinions and these in turn, act upon the key pins in each lock. Turning the Bramah Key causes all of the key pins and keys to rotate, thus moving all the individual lock bolts simultaneously. Depending on the direction in which the Bramah key is turned, the lock bolts are either thrown or withdrawn.”

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Kathleen Kempf is the Marketing Manager at IDN-H. Hoffman.