Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Find: A Key Moment

One of my favorite photos from The Find: The Housing Works book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details is of a tin tray holding a collection of rusty skeleton keys discovered at the Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Faire. Today, the platter of of keys I'm sharing are ones I found in November at Britanski Trg's flea market in Zagreb, Croatia, demonstrating that wherever you go in the vintage and thrift world, you'll always find the familiar at the most unexpected moment.

Even if you've only attended a couple of flea markets, you've seen the plentiful population of old skeleton keys lying here and there, instantly opening all kinds of thoughts about what they could symbolize, how they might be reused and what they've seen in their lives. Is that mismatched jumble of keys made up of ones that strayed from their owners? Could they be duplicates that got stashed in an attic or cellar? Or were they rendered useless by new locks or entire door replacements?

I also start to think about all those familiar sayings that make use of the word "key: "
"The key to success;" "The key to the future;" or "The key to my heart." And then I imagine uses for a patina-enriched skeleton key: a hanging door knob ornament; a piece of jewelry; a mounted collection framed as wall d├ęcor; or even a whimsical potted plant accessory.

I find old keys alluring for the mystery they evoke. What might they have witnessed while lodged in an old door lock? Whose hands have turned them? And where have they been hiding out over the past several years?

As for my house keys, they seem to have a life of their own, appearing in the most unlikely places other than where I believe I left them.

What do old keys make you think of?

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

On another note: Remember the amazing Christmas fiesta I shared with you last week? Check out here a gallery of more photos of fabulosity by one if the party guests.


  1. My love of old skeleton keys started when we bought our house. The front door has one, and we have no extra keys, so it has to stay in that lock at all times!

  2. I grew up in a huge old Victorian house on the Jersey shore, and every bedroom and closet door had a skeleton key. If the name "skeleton key" wasn't creepy enough, the locks made an eerie, creaking noise whenever turned. It was a great house for hide-and-seek, especially in the dark, around Halloween time.

    So when I see that photo of keys, I think of that big rambling house and my family. Thanks for the memory! :O)


  3. I'm with you. I love them. Just love them..

  4. I'm fortunate to live near the Alameda Point Antique & Collectibles Fair and try to go every month. A wonderful photographer friend of mine, Steven Small, takes the most amazing photos each month and I've started showing them on my blog.
    In fact, I just posted the January photos today.
    I would love for you to check them out! When was your last visit?
    I am also a rabid treasure hunter and need to check out your book!!
    I'm Terri...nice to meet you!

  5. Hi! i just love your blog! it's so interesting and you write it so well!

  6. I love old keys. Period!

    Victoria & happy New Year and all that jazz!



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