I always admire the person who can see the future and start collecting something before they become trendy or obsolete.  Often the two can go hand in hand in the collecting world.  This is why I admire Margie’s vision of her key collection. “Why keys?” I asked.  She replied “I could see that they weren’t always going to be around”.  That was back in 1985.

Looking at the history of keys, in Ancient Greece they were used for temple locks and Spartan locks.  Women carried the angular bronze keys on one shoulder.  Homer speaks of the key to Odysseus’s storeroom.  The Greeks are said to have invented the keyhole, while the Romans refined it.

Angled bronze key from the Artemis Hemera temple in Lusoi, Arcadia. The inscription confirms that it is a temple key. Length 40.5 cm. 5th century BC. The original is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Sketch by the author.

If you think about it, we have all used one today……..the metal form that when inserted into an opening and turned draws back a bolt or latch.  But the metal key is marked for extinction.  Electronic access controls keycards, keypads, biometric scanners are already common in hotels, office buildings, and cars, and they’re becoming more and more popular.

Keys are a source of enjoyment for little kids and look fantastic when lined up together on a cork board (which is how Margie used to display the keys until recently).  Now they are bundled together usually in size or colour and thread through an old wire piece so they can be dangled from anywhere. At the moment they are dangled from an ox head, but can change according to where Margie feels like changing things around.

Where have they all come from? Some from England as presents from her daughter, some from her husbands work when they were relocating, getting rid of locks, safes or filing systems, some have been dug up in her garden and some from people who had keys and knowing she collected keys gave them to her.

Margie made it very clear that I take a photo of the Royal Oak key.  It was the place to be in Wellington situated on the corner of Dixon, Manners and Cuba street .  An infamous hotel and pub which was the place to be. The 6pm swell was legendary.  Pubs back then closed at 6pm. Reluctantly everyone would leave at 6pm and with everyone leaving at once it was referred to as the “swill”.  It has a strong history, which I knew nothing about! It has been great to read about it!
The ‘six o’clock swill’

The “Swill” before 6pm!  An exclusively male group drink up frantically while the bartenders fill jugs of beer.

Margie has such an impressive collection that my photos don’t do them justice.  There are hundreds, tiny little ones, large old ones and even a wooden key that was once her mothers. It’s never too late to start a collection like this as I’m not sure people have found their value yet and the ideas of displaying them are endless!

This entry was published on October 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm. It’s filed under Other, Silverware and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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