Posted by Ken Dunckel Safecracker Boxman on February 12, 2011 at 18:32:05:
In Reply to: Question|
The correct term is "Safe Deposit."
Even a lot of banks get this wrong. There is a branch of a
respected and well known bank in downtown San Francisco
whose outside wall sports an old and expensive cast bronze
plaque or sign advertising "Safety Deposit."
However, just because it's in print or because a bank uses
the term does not make it correct. I see typos and
misspellings in the newspaper daily, and if you listen to
the radio or television the commentators almost always make
glaring errors in grammar, syntax, subject-verb agreement
etcetera. That doesn't make those right either, despite the
fact that the people making the errors are supposed to be
professionals in writing and presentation.
"Safe deposit" originated as a term in the 1800s when banks
would rent space inside safes that were stored inside their
vaults to depositor/customers who wanted a higher level of
protection than simply having a safe at home or in a
There unfortunately were too many mix ups and suspicious
losses and subsequent claims against banks that did this,
however, because often enough valuables stored by Mr. Jones
would be kept in the same safe as those owned by Mr. Smith,
and so on. A bank couldn't devote an entire safe to one
person's small stack of papers or handful of jewelry.
So from that came the idea of "nests" of smaller key-locked
steel doors that required an individual "renter" key, no two
alike in a vault, and a common "Guard" or "prep" key. The
term Guard key came from the fact that most old time banks
had a bank guard, and one of the guard's duties was to
escort safe deposit renters into the vault area and operate
the "Guard" key, as well as being custodian of the key. Bank
guards are mostly a thing of the past, and perhaps the more
correct term, especially now, is "prep" key, because that is
the key that must be turned first and which preps the lock
for unlocking by the renter's key.
I guess I turned what should have been a simple answer into
a term paper. Need to find a hobby.