Bramah (London) : Historic cabinet locks and padlocks

Ordering and correspondence

Joseph Bramah

In 1784, trained as a cabinetmaker and with a penchant for mechanical invention, Joseph Bramah created the world's first high security lock ; a lock mechanism that, with some small changes, remains 238 years later one of the most interesting and secure and is still crafted in London to the highest standard and built into configurations relevant to current uses.

The first circular mechanism

"A Dissertation on the Construction of Locks" written by Bramah in 1784 described his first circular lock mechanism, the general principle of which has remained in use. The illustration at right depicts this mechanism and the circular block of metal with a series of passages each containing a slider. In this first version of the lock, the movement of each individual slider is controlled by its own small spring in the bottom half of the passage. Each of the sliders is held at the same height by the springs and must be pressed to their individual correct depths by a corresponding space in the end of the key, bringing the notches cut into the exterior projection of the sliders into alignment and allowing them to turn in the plate and the lock to be operated.

Refinements to the mechanism

By the time of the second edition of the dissertation in 1815, certain changes had been made to the lock mechanism that are still present in the locks made today. Instead of each slider being supported by separate small springs, there is now a socket on the pin upon which the overhanging ends of the sliders rest and underneath there is now one large spring to keep the sliders buoyant.


We can describe another great advantage of the Bramah lock mechanism in his own words: "But inviolable security is not the only excellence they posses ; the simplicity of their principle gives them likewise a great advantage over Locks, that are more complicated, in point of duration ; for their essential parts being subject to no friction ; nor exposed to any possible accident from without ; they will be less affected by use, and less liable to stand in need of repair."


The key mechanism is the heart of the Bramah system. The current iteration of the mechanism was issued in 1963 and has 524,288 differs under all its variations. The Bramah key is common to all locks and any assortment of Bramah locks can be controlled by a particular key. Choose your keys and then choose which units you would like them to control.

Each unique key mechanism can be registered, whereupon additional or replacement keys will only be issued to authorized persons. This is an optional protection, and the registration card to complete this process is included with your order.

Material: stainless steel

C37: 1.46" shank length: US$ 22
C50: 1.97" shank length: US$ 26

LC50: 1.97" shank length: US$ 58 (large coinbow)

Longer lengths available

Cabinet locks

The Bramah cut cabinet lock. Possibly the finest traditional cabinet lock made anywhere in the world. Configure your locks with the below options. Multiple locks can be keyed to pass or differ. Slotted screws included. Keys priced separately.

Material: brass

CAB17: US$ 160

  • Size
  • 2.99" x 2.24" back plate (pictured)
  • 1.97" x 1.77" back plate
  • Bolt throw
  • Vertical throw: for drawers (pictured)
  • Left handed throw: for doors (pictured)
  • Right handed throw: for doors
  • Cap style
  • Plain cap, keyhole flat
  • Plain cap, keyhole depression (pic. on v.throw)
  • Single knurled cap, keyhole flat
  • Single knurled cap, keyhole depression (pic. on l.throw)
  • Double knurled cap, keyhole flat: US$ +34 (pic. loose)
  • Double knurled cap, keyhole depression: US$ +34

The standard double knurled cap can fit 3/4" thick wood.
The standard single knurled cap can fit 7/8" thick wood.

Striking plates available

Custom sizes possible

Box lock also available


The Bramah barrel padlock is for medium range security, but is nonetheless robustly built. Keys priced separately.

Material: stainless steel with chrome plated case hardened steel shackle

BP17 Short: 0.94" x 0.61" shackle clearance: US$ 108
BP17 Long: 0.94" x 1.08" shackle clearance: US$ 108

Mortise cylinders

A screw in mortise cylinder to fit a variety of mortise deadlocks from other makers. Retrofit an existing lock or use for a new installation. Available in brass or plated with nickel or chrome. Delivered with cylinder rose and Yale cam. Keys priced separately.

Material: brass with hardened steel washers

C17SI: To fit 1.75" thick doors: US$ 144
C17SI: To fit 2.25" thick doors: US$ 144

Rim cylinders are also available

«Lovers of beauty without having lost the taste for simplicity, and lovers of wisdom without loss of manly vigor.»

(c) 2023 Bryan Cash.