the Corbin Mortisse Locks





I don't know why I think they're so cool or why I've gone through so much trouble to make sure these are all working but our house is outfitted with Loraine Design Corbin Mortisse locks upstairs and St. Remi Design Corbin Mortisse locks on the front entrance and vestibule doors.

Finding these in the 1905 Corbin Hardware Catalog was quite a feat but I was pretty excited to see them listed. Anything to try and help me to date the house. Sadly I don't know how long they were offered before the 1905 catalog or how long they were offered after. As it turns out the Loraine style is currently being reproduced and is available at Antique House Parts type stores. I'm still hoping to find a couple of originals to replace those that were lost, it'll be tough with a bunch of repros out there.





In a few places locks were replaced with modern locks, the old mortisse having been filled in. I found a website that had a slew of old mortisse locks with their exact measurements and was able to find two Corbins which matched exactly. I only needed one but bought both just in case. Now that we've taken over another apartment it looks as though that door will need to be restored. While I was able to get the locks themselves, they didn't come with doorknobs or escutcheons.


       


These are made of cast bronze. Cleaning the paint off of them is tough as it mars the finish. I often can't use anything more harsh than a fingernail. I don't want to polish these as I love the naturally aged look to them so for right now they remain the same. I did, however, take the cylinder to a local locksmith who reset the tumblers and made keys (the originals had been lost long ago).


       


Some in the house have never seen paint, others I've carefully stripped off the worst of it. Much of the hardware in the house is in bronze from sash locks and lifts to the hinges on the doors. After a couple of sad mistakes I am getting better at not removing the patina. The doorknob on the left was entirely covered in old white latex and developed a protective layer of green waxy tarnish between the bronze and the paint which made removal very easy. The knob on the right has never seen paint.





Here is the lock itself. The face (on this one it's chrome/steel, depending on where they are in the house the face is either made of brass or bronze) measures 5 7/16" long by 15/16" wide and is 1/8" thick. Yes, the measurements really are as picky as a 16th of an inch. The black portion of the lock is 3 1/4" wide, 3 3/4" tall and is 9/16" thick. From the front of the face to the center of the spindle hole the distance is 2 9/16", this is called the "backset". The distance from the center of the spindle hole to the center of the top of the key hole is 2 3/16". If you're doing new construction (with old locks) these measurements probably aren't as important to you but when trying to replace missing mortisse locks (meaning the holes are already carved out, cut and drilled) it's pretty important.





The lock number is Corbin 770 (as stamped on the cover plate. In other models it's stamped on the inside by the mechanism. Having replacement locks is handy as much of the insides are made of cast iron and are rather fragile. I find that every time I have one of these that "doesn't work" it's usually only in need of some paint removal and lubrication. When working (and lined up correctly with the strike plates) they work smooth as butter.