I saw the excellent film Hugo last weekend (also an excellent book, by the way) and the main character’s ability to fix clocks and other mechanisms got me thinking. I began to wonder if there was a museum out there similar to what I saw in the movie. In the middle of Manhattan is the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York building. Say that ten times fast. Inside is one of the largest bank and vault lock collections in the world. Named after a dude obsessed with all things mechanical, the John M. Mossman Lock Museum has more than 370 locks, keys and tools dating from 4000 BC to the modern day. It’s hard to believe, but less than 100 years ago lock mechanisms relied on an insane amount of detail and ornate workmanship, similar to those required for making clocks. Alongside the lighted glass cases full of Egyptian wooden-pin locks, Chinese padlocks and American time locks are studded trunks, with cleverly concealed keyholes, once used by bankers to protect millions of dollars. Some locks even used time mechanisms, and could only be opened at a particular hour of the day or year. Fascinating stuff, if you ask me. And I don’t even have a fetish for polished gears and mechanical antiques. But maybe now I do.