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 Ratner Key Locks 

Ratners were originaly known as Ratcliff & Horner Ltd.
more Ratner safeplates
Ratners' Standard Safe Lock
Early 7 lever lock9 Lever lock with a bolt blocking device
Early 7 lever safe lock

Features: End gated, false notched, levers with integral springing. The top lever acts as a check lever engaging in a recess cut into the bolt stump. Mechanism is mounted within an IDB (iron door block) to resist gunpowder attack.

Case size: 87 x 103 x 22 mm, Serial Number: 7941, c.1899.

9 Lever Safe lock

Features: End gated false notched levers with integral springing. The bottom lever acts as a check lever engaging in a pocket cut into the bolt lath. A device to lock up the bolt until the lever pack has been raised. The bolt head and the underside of the IDB are provided with groves to vent explosive gases. An extension on the IDB provides additional support against lateral force on the bolt head.

Case size: 85 x 117 x 25mm. Serial number: 33911. c1918

Ratners' Double Stump Safe Lock
Ratner double stump lockRatner wedge bolt lock
8 Lever Double Stump

Features: 4 levers that are end gated at the bolt end and pockets at the tail end, as well as 4 half levers operating at the tail end and all with integral springing. Both the IDB and the bolt head have machined in groves to assist in venting explosive gases.

Case size: 91 x 128 x 25mm. Serial number: 30008. c1915.

8 lever Double Stump With Wedge Bolts

Features: This lock incorporates all the features of the standard double stump lock but also has an additional bronze bolt on each side of the lock. The IDB, in this example, is brass and also has an extension providing lateral support to the bolt head.

Case size: 93 x 139 x 24 mm. Serial number: 45803. c1926.

Ratners' Change key Safe Lock
Change key lock
Change key lock

Features: 7 Changeable levers with a check lever at the top and bottom of the pack, which gave the potential to ensure that different users keys would not be interchangeable.
Case size: 88 x 144 x 32mm. Serial number: 18123. c1908

Ratners' Dual Control Safe Lock
Ratner 7 lever 12-21 Daul Control Lock
7 Lever dual control lock

Features: 7 double ended levers with both end gating and pockets. key one would act upon the pocket end of the levers allowing the secondary bolt stump to move. Key two would then allow the withdrawal of the main bolt. Locking was first by key 2 then by key 1. The mechanism is set in a brass IDB which also had provision for an AED.
Case size: 87mm x 108 x 24mm. Serial number: 49714. c1930.

Ratcliff & Horner Ltd
Ratner Safe Company Ltd

Ratner was the last of the great Victorian safe companies to be formed and very quickly gained a reputation of excellence.

The company was originally known as Ratcliff & Horner Limited and was formed in 1890 by Mr Daniel R Ratcliff, his son, Mr W M Ratcliff and Mr J M Horner who was the works manager at Milners. However due to financial difficulties the company re-capitalised in 1895 as Ratner Safe Company Limited.

Daniel Rowlinson Ratcliff, born 2nd October 1837, came from a family background of machinists and founders and was described as a safe manufacturer. He was for some time agent for Milner and joined the company about 1861. His early activities could be described as colourful. Contemporary wrangling between Milner and George Price is well documented in Prices 1854 Treatise and also in the recently published work “George Price –Champion of the Security Trade”. He married the only child of William Milner, Jane, in 1862. Daniel eventually became a partner with William Milner and jointly patented many improvements. When William Milner died in 18 74 the executors formed a public limited company as provided for in the will. Daniel received £35,000 worth of shares and other bonuses. The reason for his disenchantment at Milners’ is unknown but the procedures and regulations relating to a public limited company probably didn’t suit one that was used to making decisions without the formality now demanded. One of Daniel and Jane’s children, William M Ratcliff, joined his farther in his new venture and eventually became chairman of the company. J M Horner was the Milner works manager at the time who also brought several experienced workers into the fledgling new company.

One of the early innovations that Ratner brought to the industry was the twelve corner bent safe. The outer shell was made from a single piece of steel, which gave great inherent strength. This was a far superior method than fabricating the individual sides and riveting them together, and probably went a long way in establishing the reputation of the new company.. As far as locks was concerned the designs adopted were developed from experience gained at Milner. Because of this experience the design remained static, there is little difference between early and late produced locks, only differing in minor details – a sure sign of an effective and sound design. In fact Ratner locks looked very similar to and included many features found in Milner locks. For example the solid block, or IDB (iron door block) as it was referred to in the works, from the now well expired Milner ‘Solid’ Patent and the integral lever whose pedigree can be traced back to Aubin and his early Nettlefold days. There were five standard locks in the range which only developed in minor details such as the number of levers or the projection on the bolt tail which engaged a live AED (anti explosive device), the Patented ‘Explosive Safety Bolt’ or the ‘Raternermatic’ as it was later called. Its understood that a lock should have either false notches or an anti-pressure device, but not both. Ratner incorporated a device which locked up the bolt until the levers had been lifted, but still effectively incorporated false notches. Locks were hand finished right up to the end. The rough castings and stampings were laboriously filed, drilled and shaped. One of the first jobs a locksmith apprentice would do is to produce his own set of jigs and hand tools for bringing and finishing the various lock parts into a highly efficient mechanism.

Ratner and Griffiths amalgamated around 1942, but still retained their separate identities, and was eventually taken over by the Stratford-Tann group in 1971.
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This page was last updated August 2012
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