Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Find: Key Elements

Photograph for The Find by Jim Franco
Here's a post from the past that shares one of my favorite vintage finds -- keys!

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  keys I'm sharing are ones I found a while back 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?
Photograph by Stan Williams
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!


  1. I, too, love -- and collect -- old keys. The older and rustier, the better! To me they represent such potential ... what might they open? What treasures might they reveal?
    They also remind me that "holding the key" to something is not enough... one must also know the location of the lock! (Still, holding the key is a start!)
    For now, most of my keys are displayed in a terra cotta bowl. But I also put a couple on a pretty ribbon which hangs from a plate rack mounted on my diningroom wall.

  2. Old keys remind me of my grandmother's house when I was a child. Lovely memories...

  3. My local antique bookstore sells old keys from the 70s and earlier. I'm thinking of buying one to make into a key to my heart project for Valentine's Day to give to my boyfriend!



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