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A Short Biographical Sketch of A C Hobbs
Scott J Klemm

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Hobbs picking a lock.

A Short Biographical Sketch of A. C. Hobbs
by Scott J Klemm

Alfred Charles Hobbs was born on October 7th, 1812 in Boston. When Alfred was only three years old his farther died leaving the family destitute. Begining at the age of ten, A. C. Hobbs worked at a variety of jobs ranging from farm help to wood carving, carriage building, tinsmithing, and harness making. While an apprentice at the Sandwich Glass Company, he learned to make doorknobs and became interested in locks. For a while he was a partner in a small firm of Jones & Hobbs, lockmakers. About 1840 he became a salesman for the Day & Newwll Company - one of America's foremost lock makers. Here he earned a reputation as an expert lock picker. He found that the best way to sell his Companies locks was to pick the locks of his competitors. In 1851 he was sent to the Great Exhibition in London where he succesfully picked the famous Chubb and Bramah locks. (The details of the "Great Lock Controversy" are undoubtedly familiar to most readers.)
Assisted by his newly won fame and publicity, he founded Hobbs & Co., London, in 1852. A few years later the name was changed to Hobbs, Ashley & Co. Even after selling out and returning to the United States, the Company retained Hobbs' name. (In 1860 the name was changed to Hobbs, Hart & Co.)
Back in America A. C. Hobbs became the superintendent for the Elias Howe Jr. Sewing Machine Co., (1860-1866), and later the general manager of the Union Metallic Cartridge Co. (1866-1890). On November 6th, 1891 Alfred C. Hobbs died in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

This artical was first published in "The Lock Collectors Newsletter" October 1975.

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