The Lure of the Key
Knowledge Acquired from Some Thirty-Five Years Collecting
- Hardback (BB)
- 01 Sep 2016
The key has been in use for many centuries, it has become such a familiar object, essential for so many uses, that, apart from identification, its appearance is of little or no importance. Modern keys are characterless, mass-produced stampings that do not merit a second look. Technology and the need for improved security mean that they are gradually facing extinction. Collecting keys is a logical hobby. Keys are small taking up little space; they can be stored in drawers so do not need to be dusted; require little or no maintenance; will last indefinitely and above all are both attractive and interesting, each one providing just a little of our past. The end of the 17th century was the time when the craftsman’s skill reached its zenith which can be seen in the myriad illustrations. This skill has not been surpassed before or since so it is regrettable that so few keys can be attributed to a particular maker or workshop. The author has managed to include a number keys whose owners can be identified e.g. the Duke of Somerset, Catherine Fauquier, William’s and Mary’s Lord Chamberlain and the Earl of Carnarvon and has briefly researched their histories. This book covers the history of the key from the Middle Ages to 1900. The glorious keys evolved over these years until, with the spread of new manufacturing processes available with the coming of the Industrial Revolution, its demise.
After a career in the London Stock Exchange, William Wallace entered the antiques trade and then the jewellery business. A chance encounter with an abandoned door in southwestern France sparked his interest in keys. He has now been an ardent collector of antique keys (a cagophilist) for more than thirty-five years during which time he has become accepted as an authority on the subject, well known to museums and collectors in Britain and overseas.