Corbin Russwin Continues a Tradition

Oct. 5, 2011

As a young locksmith I would often see mortise locks or keys in our locksmith shop containing the logo "Creo". It was not until years later that I found out that the letters really stood for Russell & Erwin Company. The "C" enclosed the other letters in the logo so it was natural to assume that "C" was the first letter of the name. Henry Russell & Cornelius Erwin began their lock business with a partner in 1839. In 1846 the company name became Russell & Irwin Company. By 1885 The Russell & Irwin Company was said to be the largest manufacturer of builders hardware in the world. The name "Russwin" first appeared in 1875 but it was not until 1908 that "Russwin" became an official trademark.

Among their many inventions, one noteworthy invention was the "Pullman" latch, still used today in exit devices and unit locks.    

Another lock manufacturer had "P & F Corbin" embossed on their key blanks for 100 years. Philip Corbin, Frank Corbin and Edward Doen formed Doen, Corbin & Company in 1849. Both the Russell & Irwin Company and the Doen, Corbin Company began business in New Britain, CT, a popular area for lock companies in the 1800s. In 1854 the expanding company became the P & F Corbin Company.

In the beginning, Corbin made specialty locks and hinges, but in 1868 they branched out into residential and commercial locks, competing directly with Russwin for business. In 1879 P & F Corbin began manufacturing a line of cabinet locks. In 1882 the cabinet lock department became the Corbin Cabinet Lock Company- a forerunner of the current CCL company.  

Pin tumbler locks were incorporated into the P & F Corbin line in 1887. This line competed with a similar line of locks from Russell & Irwin. The solution to this fierce competition was a merger of the two companies in 1902. The new name was the American Hardware company. Both the P & F Corbin and Russell & Irwin Companies kept their name identities as Russwin and Corbin.

One lock of interest from P & F Corbin is their unit lock. Unit locks only require a notch cutout in the door, simplifying installations. The unit lock became very popular and can be considered the first key-in-knob lockset.  

During the 20th century, American Hardware was purchased by the Emhart Company and then Black & Decker. Black & Decker combined the two brands into one Corbin Russwin brand. Corbin Russwin was purchased by Assa Abloy in 2000.  

Of special interest to locksmiths is the fact that the Corbin and Russwin names, and their various key systems and keyways, remained separate during most of the twentieth century. A new set of common Corbin Russwin keyways and key cutting dimensions now exists. The Corbin Russwin company may be new, but the experience of 150 years is evident in each new product they introduce.


Mortise deadbolts are often the lock of choice for many commercial applications. While cylindrical deadbolts are easier to install, their bulky appearance and extended projection away from the door surface are often not desired in a commercial setting. A mortise deadbolt with the proper length of cylinder provides both the best security and flush appearance on a door.

Corbin Russwin has just made some improvements to their mortise deadlock. Previously called the DL4000 series, the deadlock will now be called the DL4100. Outer cylinder operation is similar in both the DL4000 and DL4100 deadlocks. Security has been increased in the new DL4100 with the addition of a laminated bolt unit with a hardened steel insert.

A separate hub has been added to the new DL4100 deadlock which can be operated by the inner thumb when required. The older DL4000 deadlock required a separate mortise thumbturn cylinder when inside thumbturn operation was required. The addition of a thumbturn hub required a new lock case dimension, so a DL4100 deadlock cannot be exchanged for a DL4000 without re-mortising of the door. Parts for old style DL4000 deadlocks will be available until June 30, 2013.


Corbin Russwin has a long record of accomplishments with unit locks. Although internal designs have changed over years, the basic structure of a pre-assembled lockset which fits into a notched cutout in the door has remained the same for over 100 years. The Pullman latch and lock chassis are combined into one unit. Lock installations do not depend on thin sections of door material for solidifying the latch unit in place. Instead, the single-unit lock case is securely clamped against the door surfaces for the strongest possible protection against forced entry.

UT5200 Unit Locksets are available in either lever lock or knob lock designs. Eight different lock functions are listed in the Corbin Russwin catalog including passage, privacy, entrance classroom, storeroom and store door operation. Keying systems include standard security, interchangeable core or master ring cylinders. Master ring cylinders, another Corbin Russwin invention, allow the development of very large master key systems in comparison with single shearline master key systems.  


Electronic access control is playing an increasing role. Corbin Russwin features many electronic lock products including the Access 800 AC2 series of standalone locksets. This group of locksets is of special interest to locksmiths. Battery power simplifies installations and a wide choice of options provides the correct system for any customer requirement. 800 AC2 configurations are available for cylindrical, mortise or exit device installations. All Access 800 AC2 locks are enclosed in a "sleek, architecturally pleasing design," according to Corbin Russwin literature.

There are seven different Access 800 AC2 lock variations. The basic Corbin Russwin M800 product allows up to 100 users with keypad operation only. Programming is completed at the M800 keypad. The M801 model allows up to 2000 users with keypad operation only. Programming for the M801 can be completed at the keypad or with Corbin Russwin SoloPlus™ access control management software. The 2000 user, M802 model provides a higher level of security and uses an HID proximity card system. All programming is completed with Corbin Russwin SoloPlus software. The 2000 user, M803 model can use combinations of proximity card and keypad systems. Based on to customer needs, either a dual proximity card and keypad code are required for access, or access can be set to use only a proximity card or only a keypad code. Corbin Russwin models M804, M805 and M806 add RF technology which allows the use of fobs as a credential.

Many standard features are included for specialized customer needs. The M800 model contains memory for 1000 audit trail events while M801-M806 models will hold 2000 audit trail events in memory. Keypad models can use codes of 1 to 6 digits. M801-M806 models contain many features including time zone settings, holiday settings and auto unlock operations. Six AA batteries provide battery life for an estimated 80,000 cycles for models M800-M803 and for an estimated 4 1/2 months for RF models M804-M806. All models have accommodations for hard wiring if necessary. Access 800 AC2 models are UL listed for fire doors and meet ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 requirements.

Corbin Russwin also offers a full range of electronic access control locks that integrate with many popular access control systems. This range of solutions includes Integrated Wiegand and IP-enabled (WiFi and Power over Ethernet) technologies.

Corbin Russwin is an Assa Abloy Group company. For further information contact your local locksmith distributor or Corbin Russwin, 888-607-5703,