If he didn’t exactly invent it, John Junkunc is credited with perfecting the design of the single-dial combination padlock (for which he was granted a patent in 1910). Born in Hungary, he was a tinkerer and inventor by nature, and by most accounts he arrived in America as a 15-year-old stowaway in 1894. After a brief stay in Idaho, he moved to Chicago, where his older brother Stephen joined him; together, they formed Junkunc Bros. Manufacturers in 1912, manufacturing locks in the basement of the home Stephen was renting at the time. The brothers parted ways in 1918 to found two companies that still exist today: Stephen’s General Machinery & Manufacturing Company, and John’s American Lock Company.
This lock, a rare bit of history, dates from the brothers’ time as partners—the still-intact original tag reads “Junkunc Brothers, est. 1912” and includes the handwritten combination (as well as instructions for use in the dark!). Measuring approximately 6” in height, it most closely resembles a classic bicycle lock with its high, open shackle. You could certainly use it for that, but we have a feeling this one might appeal more to collectors—whether of locks, Chicago history, or fascinating bits of American manufacturing history. As that bright yellow tag says: “A combination lock gives you no protection if you tell someone else the combination. KEEP IT YOUR SECRET.” Fine advice indeed!You May Also Like