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World’s smallest key duplicator

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    Posted 10 years ago

    (6 items)

    I found the Collectors Weekly website through my fascination with gumball machines. But since I’m also a lock collector, I really enjoy the Show & Tell sections on locks, doorknobs, and keys. The section on keys is the closest I can find to tell you about my little key duplicating machine.

    A couple of years ago I was at an antique lock collectors’ show. I saw this neat little gadget that looked like it was used for copying keys with a file. I was right. I bought it and did some investigating. The first picture shows my Harrison M.I.P. Key Filing Machine. The Instructions and the “testimonials” brochure are photocopies. I put the originals away for safe keeping and naturally I couldn’t find them for the pictures. (groan…)

    This is not a “machine” as we normally think of a machine. It is a fixture for holding a key and a key blank with guides for filing on the key blank, thus duplicating the key. When I got home from the show, I did a little bit of searching on the Internet for information on my lucky find. I couldn’t find any information on Harrison & Company, but a Google search turned up some advertisements for the M.I.P. Key Filing Machine in issues of Popular Mechanics magazine from 1912 through 1915 and a couple of issues of Popular Science in 1920. M.I.P. stands for “Multum In Parvo", a Latin phrase that translates as “Much In Little”. Not only did I find a way cool tool for my collection, but it included a bonus lesson in Latin!

    The second picture shows the “machine” in a vise ready for duplicating a key. The original or “pattern” key is in the lower position. The key blank is in the upper position. There are bolts with large round, but thin heads that act as a clamp for each of the keys. Square brass nuts on the back side ae tightened to fasten the keys to the machine. You can see that there are two additional holes for the clamping bolts on the left side of the machine. If the key to be duplicated has a lower milling on the opposite side than my Yale key in the picture, the bolts can be repositioned so the key can be inserted from the left. Clamped onto the bows of the keys is the Harrison “Improved Clamp”. Apparently, this was something they added later to provide additional stability to the keys as they are worked on. Between the keys is a clamping fixture that is tightened and loosened by the square brass nut you can see. This part holds the guide. The bottom of the guide rests in a cut of the pattern key. The key blank is filed into at this position until the file reaches the top of the guide. The operator would then reposition the guide at the next cut and the next until the duplicate key was complete. According to the instruction booklet, the guides are hardened.

    The third picture shows a closer view of the pattern key with two guides in position. The machine came with two guides with slightly different shapes. The operator would not use both guides, but select the one that matches the shape of the cuts in the pattern key.

    The fourth picture shows the back of the instruction booklet. This actually helps me date my machine since the original price of $3.00 is crossed out and the new price of $3.50 and the date of November 1, 1916 is stamped above. At either price, how can you go wrong?

    -- Earth

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    1. walksoftly walksoftly, 10 years ago
      Love it, I doubt you got it for $3.50 ;-)
    2. Earthling_ Earthling_, 10 years ago
      Thanks, walksoftly. If I had a time machine, I could go back and buy about 14 of them for what I paid. :-)

      One really nice point I forgot to mention is that this one appears to have NEVER been used.

      -- Earth

    3. exhusband27, 5 years ago
      MAY 2017. London England.
      I have just got one of these "machines" & would like to know a little more about it.
      Is there any point in restoring it, does it have any value?
      If there is anyone out there who can help or would like pictures please let me know.
      Many thanks.

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