Safe deposit boxes as we know them today are commonly found in modern banks or private vaults. The origins of the locking system to keep valuables safe can be traced down to the ancient times when a method similar to today’s safe deposit lockers was in use.
Safety Deposit Locker System’s Beginning
The history of the safe deposit box system can be traced back to ancient times in Egypt when influential people were handed over precious items in exchange for a price. It was similar to current banking methods.
In the tomb of Pharaoh Ramses II, (he reigned in the thirteenth century BC), the earliest remains of a locking mechanism that resembled keys were found.
The counterpart of our modern day vault was used in ancient Greek about 2500 years back when smaller independent communities evolved. Some specimens may still be found in their temples today. Greek locks were often regarded as insecure.
The Romans were the ones who created better locks than the Greeks and Egyptians by using metal. Roman locks were significantly stronger, though smaller and the key could be kept in the pocket or worn around the neck.
The invention of modern day safe deposit lockers
The United States is considered the birthplace of modern day bank lockers. In 1782, the Bank of North America was launched as the first American commercial bank. After this, the Bank of New York and the Bank of Massachusetts too were launched. But by that time these banks were not offering safe deposit box service.
Later, the number of banks grew as money systems evolved with coins and paper money. Banks in the United States began to provide safekeeping services in the early 1800s. Before 1814, there is documented evidence of the US banks keeping gold for protection.
Due to security issues, the early days of safeguarding clients’ assets in open vaults were not very successful. Banks in those times used to keep a trunk or box in their vault holding the clients’ gold jewellery and other precious items. In the 1860s, technical advancement in the form of the contemporary safety deposit lockers took place.
This transformed the way banks used to safeguard clients’ assets. Customers were allowed to deposit their valuables in a sealed box to be kept in the vault. And with the invention of the safe deposit lockers, private vaults offering the safety service emerged.
First Safe Deposit Company
The Safe Deposit Company of New York is considered the world’s first safe deposit company, founded in 1865. This specialised vault offered the storage of trunks and boxes. Their safe deposit boxes were made of iron, each with its combination lock so that clients have entire control of their boxes.
The name of the individual who came up with this innovation is not known. The construction of a proper locking device must have been what made the innovation useful.
It’s possible that New York resident James Sargent, who designed the first key changeable combination lock in 1861, was involved in this innovation. This lock was an instant hit with safe makers, and it sparked the production of safety containers for keeping valuables.
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World’s Second Safe Deposit Vault was Launched in London
The National Safe Deposit Company Limited, founded in 1872, seven years after the Safe Deposit Company of New York, was the first safety vault in the United Kingdom.
It was located at Queen Victoria Street in London. This private vault grew in popularity and had 15,000 users by 1968, but it had to lock its doors within two decades because its lease had expired.
London magistrates’ court presently occupies the space. The early twentieth century was an era of great expansion of the safety deposit industry throughout the UK and Europe, as it was in the United States.
The future of the safe deposit centres might be secure for the next 100 years, thanks to a large potential market of wealthy customers and their interest in acquiring gold jewellery or bullion coins.
If you want to rent a safe deposit centre in London, search on Google- ‘safe deposit box near me’ and you will be able to find one in your area.
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