Henry Brown was an inventor who saw a need for a convenient and secure way to store money, valuables and important papers. At that time, people commonly kept those type of items in wooden or cardboard boxes in their homes or entrusted them to local banks. Both of these options presented dilemmas. While banks generally provided safety against theft, they did not prevent bank employees from reading through personal papers. At the same time, keeping the items at home could help to keep prying eyes away, but there was little to prevent burglars from quickly and easily grabbing valuables and making off with them.
Brown decided to create a safer container and developed a forged-metal container which could be sealed with a lock and key. He patented his receptacle for storing and preserving papers on November 2, 1886 and it developed into what is now known as a strongbox.