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Sun 24 Aug 2008 - 2:00 am UTC
I need help identifying a skeleton key. I would like some information on it's origin, it's use, estimated age, etc. It's quite heavy, and I'm almost positive it is made of solid brass. It is 9 7/8" inches long. I've posted a few pictures are here:
Let me know if you need any other information. Thanks in advance; you guys always do great, fast research!
Sun 24 Aug 2008 - 12:27 pm UTC
Very interesting ... the key's bow is shaped like a lyre. While elaborate ornaments were rather common with keys in the 19th century, such a complex design is not something you see every day on an old key. I am quite sure that it is a key from the 19th century; the ornaments look very much like they are from the Victorian age. A bit too pompous for Empire or Regency, though I might be wrong.
At the same time, it has the appearance of an industrial product rather than a handmade one-of-a-kind key. Expensive, but not unique. An English or American product, perhaps, judging from the overall style.
The close-up of the keyblade seems to reveal the faint remains of embossed letters. Unfortunately, they are too worn to read. The last three letters could be -GAI or -SAI. This could indicate a manufacturer's name of French origin, though not necessarily that the key itself was made in France. However, if the letters are not a manufacturer's name at all but only something like a catalogue number, these thoughts would not lead far.
Maybe I can find out something. Should I have any success, I will let you know immediately.
Tue 26 Aug 2008 - 11:44 pm UTC
Thank you scriptor and myoarin for your input -
Scriptor, you are correct in that the beginning of the embossed lettering on the key blade is unfortunately too worn to read, but in person, it appears that that last letters read RTUGAL, as in PORTUGAL. I now realize that the lighting in the pictures do not do this justice, and will upload a few pictures that better depict this.
Myoarin, I agree with you as far as it's possible use in a sacristy; it seems to have that "vibe", if you will. As far as I know, I thought a skeleton key was any key in which the axis perpendicular to the keyblade would fit into a keyhole which is shaped similar to a skull: circular at the top and trapezoidal at the bottom; regardless of the slots/cuts of the blade.
The one thing I can't seem to get over is that no matter how much I search, I cannot find a key that remotely resembles a key of this size, shape, or ornamentation. Below is a picture I found when searching for "temple key" on Google Images. It's not very similar at all, but as far as it's physical characteristics go (size and "level of importance"), this could be the closest:
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