Slave Neck Collar Insight
An in-depth look in to the fascinating restraint known as the - Slave Neck Collar.
The David De-Val neck collar looks & feels robust, its metal construction has no plastic or other such like components to weaken, snap or cause it to break. It was based on the Squire 440 Old English padlock which had a steel case construction, (plated) with an internal 4 lever lock mechanism, as well as having a raised brass key hole cover. It came supplied with two keys (PEF KB440) allowing it to be opened and locked. These locks were designed to be used any almost any environment as well as being designed to last.
Only the body of the padlock was used, the original locking top shackle was removed and a specially made large looped neck ring was put in its place. The neck loop ring was a stainless steel looped rod which was specially made for David to fit on to the collar. The neck collars he sold were each made one at a time and the construction and manufacturer, as well as alterations to the lock to fit it were all done by hand. This gives a uniqueness to each one made which you can see by the photos.
The ring loop & padlock are totally secure there was no way to remove this once it was put on and locked, Its operation as padlock remain unchanged only difference was that it had a larger custom shackle (neck loop) that went round the neck. The neck loop was large enough to go round the neck comfortably but small enough not to allow it to slip over your head even if your head was a small size. The horizontal clearance of the loop is 15 ½ cm and vertical clearance is 16 ½ cm Specific dimensions of the 440 lock are- Body width 51mm. Body Thickness 16.5mm.
Some hand drawings & photocopy illustrations of the neck collar in books and pamphlets appear to indicate a Squire 550 padlock being used, although the Squire 440 & 550 padlocks are the same size and dimensions the 550 body was made entirely of brass and to my understanding it was the Squire 440 padlock model that was used in the construction of the neck collars.
Additional information I am aware of suggesting a 550 neck collar was produced was indicated is a grainy photo in a later advert pamphlet. This showed a 550 stamped padlock with no neck loop attached where you would expect to see it. In the photo the normal shackle area is obscured with a box of typed information which was overlaid, based on this it was most probably used for reference to the locks operation and was not an actual neck collar.
The loop ring was secured at the right side of the lock and was permanently hinged there, it moved over to the right when the ring was opened to allow the locking catch on the other end to disengage out the padlock body when unlocked using the key. There was a small washer in place here to ensure the loop did not move to freely once open, then it was able to be fully opened very wide approx 27-29 cm The Original shackle thickness was 8mm, Neck Loop thickness is also 8mm
In Fig1 are two identical Neck collars, you can see from the one on the left in the top photo its plated finish has worn, most probably due to its use over the years. The other one could easily be mistaken as being new, it is in very good condition and has retained its shine as well as firmness in the neck loop operation. As expected the brass key hole cover has tarnished but this is easily restored with a brass cleaner and some elbow grease. Both remain in full working order as intended and easily still usable in an escape act.
PHOTO Fig 2 Top Photo
At the top of the ring was another hinged link. To allow it to open further when the shackle ring was unlocked
This allowed it to be placed around the neck. As with out this it would be impossible to secure. The join was secured by a snug fitting type of split pin. Clearly differences here as in the photos as it was hand made. Photos on top is the inner side and below the outer side of the ring top join.
The end of the loop as in fig 3 was the same type of construction as the original shackle which would have locked into the body mechanism to lock it. You can see from the photos each is again different with a coarse finish
The neck collar has always been a very visual restraint. The original name of the collar as advertised and sold was called the “Slave Neck Collar” it was also referred to as a “manacle”
Information in David’s catalogues and pamphlets (Fig 4 Pamphlet) adverting the neck collar, stated they were unavailable for some time. This was due to my understanding of there being issues with the manufacturer of the neck loop which stopped production. The loop part was made for him in a workshop that he then assembled to make the finished neck collars. To my knowledge there was no one else who assembled or made the finished neck collars only David did.
Information advertising it stated the collar was “Ideal for use in underwater escape work” this was another fact of its versatility and mechanical engineering, but as with all such mechanical devices regardless of how well made they are there is the risk of mechanical failure so the danger of being submerged and escaping from the collar this way is entirely at your own risk.
The collars are rare for several reasons. They were made specially to order, one was made at a time,they were not mass produced. You could not simply pop into any supplier and get one of the shelf.
How many were made? Well that’s a good question which remains to be answered but it took me some considerable time to obtain these collars. And If I was to estimate a number then it would be a guess. But they are not many from my understanding.
The neck collar sold for £46 based on info in one of his past catalogues which dated back to being made from around 1993.
USE IN ESCAPES
The neck collar was intended to be used around the neck, but it was also intended to be uses around the feet and legs as well as having chains attached. With out doubt the collar was strong and the addition of having heavy chains attached and looped round the neck loop was not a problem. This dramatically added effect that the collar was attached to other areas making it more secure. Even with vigorous movement and pulling on the chains the collar would remain tightly secure once locked around the neck or other area it was placed on to.
You could use this will a multitude of other escape equipment the limit was your own imagination. The collar escape could be done in full view which I favour in escapes or as part of an act where you are confined to a crate or bag etc the choice was yours. Many people are familiar with the 440 lock as they have been around for many years, physically using a key to lock it rather than a snap shut type can be done hands on by a spectator to show its is really locking shut which it is. Once locked the spectator or escape artist can pull and yank the collar and any attachments on it to show its firm and secure around the neck.…totally solid.
David used to perform an escape from a ladder high in the air above a crowd. His hands were handcuffed and he had a neck collar locked around his neck with another collar locked round his ankles!
Thanks to Riley for information which he contributed to this article.