Interior cast iron and solid brass faceplate Reading Hardware Co. mortise lock. An interior mortise lock is a lock which is used on an interior door that has been cut with a pocket or hole into which the lock is to be fitted. Interior mortise locks commonly include a doorknob hub, through which a doorknob spindle is installed and doorknobs are mounted on each side and secured into place with pins or set screws; and a keyhole which accommodates an old-fashioned bit or skeleton key which in turn throws the deadbolt to lock and unlock the door. Mortise locks have specific dimensions including backset, the measurement from the edge of the faceplate (the strip that shows when the mortise lock is installed in the door) to the center of the doorknob hub; and spacing, the measurement from the center of the doorknob hub to the center of the round part of the keyhole. The dimensions were not standardized in the 19th century so it is important to note the dimensions of your door prior to purchasing a mortise lock.
Reading Hardware Works. In 1851, William HARBSTER established a blacksmith shop at the foot of Sixth street in Reading, PA for general blacksmith work, and in 1852 his brothers Matthan and John became associated with him, under the name of HARBSTER Brothers, for the manufacture of builders' hardware, such as locks, bolts, fasteners, latches, etc., when they erected a foundry. Shortly afterward their brother-in-law, William M. GRISCOM, became associated with them as a partner, and they then traded as HARBSTER Brothers & Co. until 1872, when the name was changed to Reading Hardware Company. As their business increased their plant was gradually enlarged until by 1895 and by that time the establishment covered five acres of ground, all substantial buildings, three and four stories high, with their employees numbering nearly 1,000 and the annual wages paid exceeding $100,000. Their productions included all kinds and styles of hardware, both plain and ornamental, and these came to be shipped to all parts of the world. Their trade was largely increased by making a specialty of furnishing all the necessary hardware in the construction of large hotels and office buildings at New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and other large cities in this country and foreign countries, their unique and artistic designs in fine bronze obtaining the preference with the most prominent architects and builders. Their products have been displayed at all the great expositions in the United States and Europe, and their superiority was recognized by the awarding of medals and diplomas. The business was incorporated in 1886. In 1887, the greater part of the plant was destroyed by fire, but it was immediately rebuilt and much improved in arrangement and equipment, making it one of the finest industrial plants in the United States.