Locking Hamilton Type cabinet

I recently acquired 5 Hamilton type cabinets and noticed one has the capability to be locked. For the life of me I can’t seem to understand why you would need to do this. I’m curios as to why this feature was added. Any thoughts?

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This is the most logical answer I can think of:

Some fonts were reserved for pulling reproduction proofs only. They were not to be used for normal job work where they would become worn and unsuitable for repro proofs. Locking up the fonts would insure they wouldn’t be used for the wrong purpose.

(To further explain repro proofs, these were used for pasting up “black and white” art for a job containing multiple elements, like a magazine advertisement or a food package. The B&W art would then be photographed to make a plate or plates for letterpress or any other printing process. B&W art was used because it mimics the printing process: the black areas of the art are where ink is to be printed on the sheet. The white areas are where no ink is printed. If a color other than black was to be used, that only came at the printing stage, when the press was inked up with that color.)

Many school’s back in the day taught basic letterpress and some bought lockable type cabinets. I have one of these Hamilton cabinets that locks with a vertical bar that came from a school. Simple design that kept type under the teachers control.

Thanks, both answers make sense.

By locking the case the owner could keep unwanted hands from playing with the foundry type.

We had locking cabinets at school. Students can be very lazy, distributing into whatever case is nearest. I’ve even heard in Junior High graphic arts shop class, some kids distributed their business card form into the toilet.
Another way to keep order, they painted a diagonal stripe down the face of the cases, color-coded for each cabinet. The stripe would be continuous if cases were replaced in correct order.

Years ago, I received several type cabinets full of type that had come from a local high school. The cabinets all had the capability to be locked but apparently were not, as I still find wrong typefaces while setting type. Apparently, distribution into the proper cases wasn’t high on the students lists when the end of class drew near!

I’ve also heard of lockable cabinets to prevent a world-class pi event in case of an earthquake.

I have of late repeatedly advised a letterpress teaching studio to fit a locking bar of some sort on its random of cases of wood-letter, owing to the current ebay sales of single letters at around £5. They have sadly done nothing so far … sigh …
Theres a special place in hell reserved for those folk breaking up fonts to sell single letters ..