York Safe & Lock faltered after founder’s death

This is the view of the wide stretch of the Susquehanna River from Highpoint, part of York Safe & Lock owner Forry Laucks’ Lauxmont estate. Easy access to the river from both the York and Lancaster county sides made the river between Wrightsville and Columbia a crossroads – and a part of many key phases of this region’s past. That’s the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge in the foreground and the Wright’s Ferry Bridge up river. Background posts: New Freedom station houses alien safe, The bomb: ‘And yet it stopped the war’ and Noted photo archive captures York County treasures.
My York Sunday News column “The Susquehanna River runs near it” tells about the life and death of York Safe & Lock’s S. Forry Laucks.
What happened to York Safe & Lock after his death in 1942?…


Not long after Laucks death, York Safe company, holding scores of millions of dollars in Navy contracts, ran into trouble.
The Navy stepped in to operate parts of the company because so many defense contracts were at stake. Parts of the company became known as the Navy Ordnance Plant and later Blaw-Knox, a company the Navy brought in to manage the factories.
So, the government played a big role in the company both before and during World War II. Defense contracts rescued the company from the Depression. Banks naturally weren’t buying safes during the 1930s. And the Navy had to step in to make the company work after Laucks death.
York Safe & Lock closed some years after the end of the war.
Selected York Safe & Lock links:
- New Freedom station houses alien safe
- York Safe & Lock worker recalls chat with Hedy Lamarr
- Hedy Lamarr’s visit to York long remembered
- From Bofors to Bikes, Harley plant top hog
- Forry Laucks, Lauxmont sparked debates
- York-made safes spotted in post-war Tokyo
- York Safe restoration ‘once in a lifetime’ project.
- York Safe faltered after owner’s death.
All York Safe & Lock posts from the start.
(For multiple posts on York County’s industrial prowess, see this blog’s Made in York category.)

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Events, Explanations/controversy, Local journalism & Web, Made in York, People, War, World War II, York Safe & Lock. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to York Safe & Lock faltered after founder’s death

  1. Federico Calderon says:

    I have a old safe box. In Lima Peru is a two doors safe with another two doors inside in a big box in metric sistem is:
    1.70 cm high, 1.40 x 0.80 x .80 cms.-
    Probably is for latest 1890 to 1920.-
    I want so sell this like an antique.-
    Pls send me your value ideas
    regards
    federico calderon

  2. Frederico,
    York Safe & Lock safes are still in use all over the world, so the fact that you located one faraway from York is not surprising. Any other York Safe sightings out there?

    • Kristie Ramsey says:

      My brother n law owns an Demo Company and his company demoed a building that had a York Safe in it. He has it and wants to sell it. It is in very good shape although it is very old.

  3. sam Houston says:

    I have a york safe 19 5/8 wide X 20″ deep and 33 1/4 ” tall with steel wheels. Outside on front door plate has serial no. 15205. Inside door on a plate is Group 1 No. 104312.
    This safe has been in my family for over 45 years that I know of and was passed down to me from my dear father in Jan. 2006.
    I have compleatly re-stored it to its origional new appearence. It has that old smell inside that money probably never would be able to buy from me!
    Can anyone give me any idea how young this safe is?
    It has a four number combination..
    Please call or write back any information on this sweet gem….
    accesslaporte@sbcglobal.net
    281-450-9007 cell
    281-542-7200 store
    Hope this note reaches a safe historian/ buff…
    Thanks,
    Sam Houston
    La Porte, Texas

  4. paul wisnyi says:

    i have a old york safe and lock company safe. it is in wonderful condition but is missing the two chrome plated finials that go on the bottom of the hinges. does anyone have two or know where i can get a pair.
    thanks
    paul

  5. mrs. G says:

    I have TWO York safes in my possession. One with combination and the other I have what I thought was the combination but it does not work and the safe is locked. Any offer or interest let me know!!!!

  6. dan Heskett says:

    you can look on the computer and get the company name and e-mail them with any informating you have and they can get the combination for you ….I have one and they could helpe me .. hope they can help you too …. mine has a 4 no# and it is over 60 years old …

  7. william smith says:

    I have a york safe. not sure the model? very old i need some parts, like on the left side top is a door w/small lock it`s missing. then below the door is 2-draws w/keys that i have. just need that small door lock and any info. on my safe?
    wdswinky@aol.com

  8. mark says:

    I have an old york safe in a building in manhattan that has to be removed, it is over 50 years old. Does any body want this? it would be a shame to cut it up for scrap metal. I didn’t measure the door yet but i guess it is 7 or 8 feet in diameter. my email is mark@tristatecontracting.com

  9. Paul says:

    I have an old Yark Safe. Dated back in 1890. A number found under the safe was 50381. The safe is about 3, feet tall and 2, feel wide. My question to you is,,, Could you tell me the value of this safe?

  10. Paul,
    The best person to ask about that – and she can direct you to the best source – is York County Heritage Trust archivist Lila Fourhman-Shaull, lfourhman-shaull@yorkheritage.org.
    Jim McClure

  11. Kristie Ramsey says:

    Sorry…Please email me @ ramz1193@hotmail.com if anyone is interested in purchasing this safe. I have pictures.

  12. ed baker says:

    i have an old york safe and lock company safe inside a safe it has a label inside the front main door that says panama pacific international exposition award winner 1915 . the only numbers i can find on it are underwriters laboratory #1766 i have the combination to the outside but not the inside. is there any way to determine the age of this safe or find the combination to the inner lock? any info would be greatly appreciated.

  13. Norma Ford says:

    I haave 2 paintings detes 1921. Family lore says tha they wee painted by an artist that worked for York Safe and Lock Co. Artist name is F. Garson.Any info would be appreciated

  14. Scott Peiffer says:

    My father in law has an old York safe from his grandfather. We can’t open it and wondered what the best way to get the combination ( if possible) ?? It measures 21-5/8″ wide, 20-1/4″ deep and 32” high including wheels. it has the name ‘Aaron Groff’ painted on it. Any suggestions are appreciated! Thanks!!

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