On June 29, 1954, a 600 pound model of the vault that held the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights went on display in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. It was one of two models the Mosler Safe Company made to demonstrate how such a mechanism would work to secure the Charters of Freedom.
During the day the documents rose up to be displayed in their marble and bronze cases. But at night, the documents descended via a specially-designed elevator into a 50-ton, concrete and steel vault built by the Mosler Safe Company. They claimed it was the largest safe in the world at that time.
The Mosler Safe Company, whose accolades included the gold vault at Fort Knox, constructed the vault in 1952 at the headquarters in Hamilton, Ohio. They then brought it to Washington, DC, for installation. It was built to be fireproof, shockproof, waterproof, theft proof, and bombproof. The documents themselves were installed on December 13, 1952, for public unveiling on Bill of Rights Day.
Two years later Mosler Company President Edwin Mosler, Jr. presented the model to Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John Bricker of Ohio on behalf of the American People.
The model operated every 30 minutes, and was on public display until the National Archives Building underwent a major renovation in the early 2000s when the actual Mosler Vault was removed and replaced. The model was put into storage and is currently on display for staff in the building’s basement.
When the Mosler Company went out of business in 2001 they gave their model to the Butler County Historical Society in Hamilton, Ohio, which still has it today.
See more images of the Mosler Vault in the National Archives Catalog.