Scope and Contents
The Kryptonite Lock Company Records, 1972-2001 document a wide spectrum of activities engaged in by the company. The records consists of audio-visual materials, correspondence, design drawings, photographs, testing records, patent information, sales reports, product information, advertisements, clippings, periodicals, legal documents, and research files. The strength of the collection resides in the marketing and sales documents. They tell a remarkable story of a small family business which created an internationally recognized brand name product. The collection also richly documents competition and innovation in the bicycle and motorcycle lock industry, through sales representative trip reports, product research and development records, and the research files on other companies. Although the collection provides a wide spectrum of documents from most aspects of the company's activities, some portions of the record are sparse and incomplete.
Series 1: History, 1973-1974, 2001, 2003, contains a company history and chronology as well as the field notes and photographs documenting the acquisition of the collection. There are two oral history interviews with Michael Zane conducted by NMAH archivist John Fleckner. The 2001 interview is an overview of the Kryptonite history; the 2003 interview focuses on Zane's description and history of the artifacts collected by the museum. There is a seven-page transcription of the 2001 interview. In addition, this series includes materials related to two companies associated with the early history of the Kryptonite Corporation, Zane Manufacturing Company (the sheet metal company owned by Michael Zane's father) and Ernest Zane and Liberty Distribution (a short-lived bicycle accessory distribution company) created by the Zane brothers to supplement and encourage the sale of their locks.
Series 2: Correspondence, 1983-2000, arranged by topic, documents some of the company's key areas of interest. The topics include customers, design ideas, media, suppliers and distributors, and sponsorships. Most of the correspondence focuses on complaints about or suggested improvements for the locks.
Series 3: Product Research and Development, 1987-2000, is arranged into three subseries, Subseries 1: Development, 1987-2000; Subseries 2: Research, 1985-1999
Subseries 1: Development, 1987-2000, is arranged by project and documents the design process of various security devices. It contains design drawings and design revisions.
Subseries 2: Research, 1985-1999, includes research on various lock patents. It also contains testing data for various locks produced by Kryptonite and outside testing companies.
Series 4: Administrative and Financial Papers, 1972-2000, includes various memos, meeting notes and agendas that thoroughly document the later part of the company's history. There is sporadic documentation of human resources activities of the company in this series. The series also includes various financial records. Sales representative trip reports are included as well. These reports are narrative accounts written by Kryptonite sales representatives to detail the state of product placement and the competition in retail stores throughout the country.
Series 5: Marketing, Advertising, and Publicity, 1972-2001, consists of five subseries, Subseries 1: Marketing materials, 1985-2000; Subseries 2: Advertising materials, 1989, undated; Subseries 3: Publicity materials, 1973-2001; Subseries 4: Crime-related materials, 1982-1996; and Subseries 5: Liz Zane files, 1990-1998 and is the most comprehensive series in the collection. It documents the marketing, advertising, and publicity efforts of the company.
Subseries 1: Marketing materials, 1985-2000, includes marketing materials, such as product sheets describing each of the company's products, and promotional materials, such as posters, bumper stickers, and postcards. Market research undertaken by the company is also included.
Subseries 2: Advertising materials, 1989, undated, contains various advertisements dating from the earliest lock designs to the merger with Ingersoll-Rand. Of particular note is a retrospective advertising notebook illustrating the numerous advertising campaigns undertaken by the company from its creation in 1972 to 1989.
Subseries 3: Publicity materials, 1973-2001, documents the multi-faceted publicity efforts of the company. Included are company newsletters, press clippings, reprint notebooks, various printed materials, press kits, and press releases.
Subseries 4: Crime-related materials, 1982-1996, consists of materials that document theft prevention activities. Included are claim reports that Kryptonite used to develop new designs and to generate an annual list of the top twenty cities for bicycle theft. Also included is the report on bicycle theft undertaken by the company in response to a sharp increase in the number of claims filed in New York City in 1988; ultimately this report resulted in the repeal of the lock guaranty in that city.
Subseries 5: Liz Zane files, 1990-1998, contains materials documenting Liz Zane, wife of Michael Zane, founder of the Kryptonite Corporation. She served as the Communications Manager for the company in the 1990s. Included in this series are press kits, her correspondence with law enforcement officers, and various research files related to publicity activities.
Series 6: Other Companies, 1985, 1991, 2001, undated, includes the Kryptonite Corporation's files documenting its patent infringement suit against Ming Tay, a Taiwanese competitor. Also included is information about the company's relationship with Trek and the company's merger with Ingersoll-Rand. In addition, the research files contain catalogs and advertisements of the company's competition.
Series 7: Visual Materials, 1988, 1996, 1997, undated, consists of black and white and color prints, slides, contact sheets, negatives and two 1⁄2" VHS tapes. The prints, slides, contact sheets and negatives document Michael and Peter Zane, the factory, a motorcycle lock, and promotional prints featuring the lock in advertising and being used. The 1⁄2" VHS tapes include a New York City Channel 4 News piece about bike theft (April 1988) and an Inside Edition, (October 1996) and Dateline (October 1997) programs on the Kryptonite Corporation.