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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    2
    Country: United States

    Default Can anyone give me info on this old, large key?

    Can anyone help me date this key and what type of lock it would've been used in?

    It's large- eight inches long (about 21 centimeters), very solid (heavy, no hole in the end of the shaft), sightly magnetic (but not as magnetic as steel), has a lot of patina on it, shows considerable wear on the shaft and lobe, no markings on it, and seems to be made from one solid piece of metal.

    I thought it might be just a decoration, but it seems like it's been used to lock and unlock something by it's wear. Also, the shaft is slightly warped (bent.)

    Any info would be appreciated as I'm new at this. It's a neat old key and makes a great paperweight. My best guess is that it may be a large door lock key, maybe a old jail door.

    Thanks

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Tonawanda, NY, USA
    Posts
    765
    Country: United States

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MTKC View Post
    Can anyone help me date this key and what type of lock it would've been used in?

    It's large- eight inches long (about 21 centimeters), very solid (heavy, no hole in the end of the shaft), sightly magnetic (but not as magnetic as steel), has a lot of patina on it, shows considerable wear on the shaft and lobe, no markings on it, and seems to be made from one solid piece of metal.

    I thought it might be just a decoration, but it seems like it's been used to lock and unlock something by it's wear. Also, the shaft is slightly warped (bent.)

    Any info would be appreciated as I'm new at this. It's a neat old key and makes a great paperweight. My best guess is that it may be a large door lock key, maybe a old jail door.

    Thanks
    Since it is lacking any lever or ward cuts on the bit, I'm guessing that it is purely ornamental or decorative. The bit is also extremely small for an actual operating key of that size.

    Pete Schifferli
    Last edited by Pschiffe; 02-07-17 at 03:21 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    1,391
    Country: Wales

    Default

    I wouldn't totally rule out the possibility of a connection with the railways/railroads.

    Its too basic, bland and featureless to be anything secure or for decoration or display, but its overall size, large bow and small blank bit are characteristics sometimes seen on some basic railroad keys.

    Between carriages, wagons, gangway connectors, signals, points etc just about every shape and size configuration was used for the simpler budget action locks.

    Keys for lower risk but heavy use were more toolish with Tommy bar handles and basic tapered square shafts, while at the other end of the scale there were some like yours with large bows and small bits still operating a simple sprung action click-to-lock and unlock, but the additional projecting keybit preventing use of other simple shaft keys.

    Thats not to say it is though- it could even be as simple as an old discarded keyblank that had the bit cut down sufficiently long ago to age and patinate evenly with the rest of the key!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    2
    Country: United States

    Default

    Thanks for the replies. I guess it could be ornamental, but it seems to have a lot of patina, dings, and scrapes for a non-functional key. The shaft is even warped.

    At the end of the tab (bit?) it shows signs of heavy wear where it has been abraded away from use. Please see the picture...

    Click image for larger version. 

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