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Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More

by Larry Tolkin

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Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and MoreFew collectors know the name Samuel Segal, but they use his inventions everyday. Since learning about Segal creations, his lighters have become more interesting.

Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and MoreSegal was born in Russia and emigrated to the U.S.A before the turn of the century when he was 8 years old. Although he attended school and had exceptional mechanical ability, he did not learn to read and write until he was 17.

He decided to become a New York City policeman, but was not well suited for the occupation. It was on night patrol of checking locked store doors that he noticed one of the doors had 6 locks on the opening side with only two hinges on its pivoting side. It was then he decided "why not build a lock with a hinge". He resigned from the police force to work full time on his idea.

He designed his first dead bolt or "jimmy-proof" lock in 1912 and with $1,000 backing started the Burgler Proof Installation Company, later becoming Segal Lock Co. His "dead-bolt" of 1921 became an instant success as it was the best lock to stop unauthorized physical entry.

Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and MoreOnce Segal had his own finances he was now able to design and invent other mechanical devices. Segal owned and worked for many companies and designed until 1964.

Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and MoreDuring the late 1920s, Segal designed a handful of lift arm mechanical petrol lighters. His first lighter is a double wheel lift arm in 1926 followed by an automatic table lift arm in 1928. The arm goes up automatically when lighter is lifted and then turn the flint wheel to operate. He also designed a pocket single bar lift arm with an unusual side slide flinting system. Segal has over 170 utility patents in his name. I've listed below some of his most important inventions and shown some of his most important inventions in date order - many of which are in use today.

  • LOCKS: Numerous dead bolt locks, padlocks, chain locks, and the telephone lock. His basic dead bolt lock mechanism is currently used in millions of apartments.
  • Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and MoreKEYS: Key duplicating machine. Yes, the one with the grinding noise and shooting sparks. It was always fun to watch a key being made. He designed many versions of this fascinating machine.
  • MISCELLANEOUS: safety razors, tweezers, pens, mechanical ashtrays, fabric cutting machines, roller skates, toilet paper holders, lipstick holders, key holders, 2ring and 3 ring notebooks, hole punchers for notepaper, staple remover, and the apparel clasp which I wore on my winter clothes to hold my gloves as a child.

Sam Segal also patented a pocket lift arm watch lighter which is extremely rare. Segal's lighters were made in mostly gold plate and nickel-silver plate. It is thought that Segal lighter production ended in the early 1930s. The 1928 automatic lift arm table model is an unusual, fun mechanism to activate. All vintage lift arm or 1920s American made lighter collections should have both a Segal pocket and table model. A complete set of Samuel Segal patents, along with descriptions, can be found online at the U.S.A. or U.K. patent office websites.

Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More
1920 Key Duplicating Machine 1924 Dead Bolt 1924 Door Bolt 1929 Table Lift Arm Lighter 1930 Lift Arm Lighter
Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More Samuel Segal: Locks, Lighters and More  
1933 Chain Lock 1937 Suspender Clasp 1948 Loose Leaf Binder 1957 Staple Remover  

 

Photos by Larry Tolkin - Patents courtesy U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

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