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  1. #1

    Default 17-18th century lock, potentially older, function of v-shape?

    Hello all,

    I have a question regarding the lock shown in the image.
    I found this in a local beguinage. As I do not really know a lot about locks I asked what it was and they told me it is known as a "drunk man's lock" (literal translation from my language). The idea is that the "V-shape" acts as some sort of "guide" so you can find your key even in the dark (the drunk man's lock is a bit wrong, it is a lock made so you can find the keyhole in the dark).
    Now this theory makes sense as the lock is from 17-18the century (or even dating back to the 13-14th century is possible, but unlikely in this case as most of the buildings were made in the 17-18th century) and streetlights were not really available.

    Now, as I found it an interesting name and liked the theory behind the lock I did some searching, but with not much luck, gained information.

    What I did figure out was that this type of locks are very similar (the same?) as gothic locks that often have nice ornaments around the keyhole. These ornaments are purely visual, esthetically and have (as far as I could find) no practical function (as far as I could find out).
    So I am wondering whether this "drunk man's lock" theory is something we (further generations) just came up with to give the V-shape a function rather than just being an ornament.

    Any ideas on this?

    Here is the lock I am refering to and called a drunk man's lock by the local people/tourist-guides.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Two other locks I found at the same beguinage: the blue one, is a more "ornamental" one, more fancy one. That already makes me doubt the "drunk man's" theory.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This lock is an inversion of the "drunk man's" lock, the V-shape is upside down. Now this (and even the blue one) could still serve as a way to guide your key to the keyhole, but to me it makes a stronger case to just assume the shape is an ornament and nothing more.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by Karel Pelckmans View Post
    Hello all,

    This lock is an inversion of the "drunk man's" lock, the V-shape is upside down. Now this (and even the blue one) could still serve as a way to guide your key to the keyhole, but to me it makes a stronger case to just assume the shape is an ornament and nothing more.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I've never seen these before but think you are right about the purpose except for the last one shown again here. I think it has just been mounted upside down. The giveaway is the pin for the drilled key. Such things are typically never at the bottom of the keyhole. It was likely mounted that way because someone ordered the lock for a left hand door and then mounted it on a right hand door instead. Mounting it upside down would make the bolt project toward the correct side.
    BBE.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BBE View Post
    I've never seen these before but think you are right about the purpose except for the last one shown again here. I think it has just been mounted upside down. The giveaway is the pin for the drilled key. Such things are typically never at the bottom of the keyhole. It was likely mounted that way because someone ordered the lock for a left hand door and then mounted it on a right hand door instead. Mounting it upside down would make the bolt project toward the correct side.
    BBE.
    Yeah, I was also thinking something was off here, because I also noticed the keyhole to be upside down, but I did not think about what you mentioned about the lock being for a left hand door and then put on a right hand door.


    The purpose is THE question: I have not found a single shred of evidence except 1 source (local source) that talks about them being "ornaments" in order to find the keyhole.
    This is a mystery.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Cleveland, Ohio USA
    Posts
    1,390
    Country: United States

    Default

    Given that the time period when those were made was not know for having a lot of lighting at night, I give it a thumbs for a drink to find the keyholes. It could have been me standing outside at night in the rain. I won't even admit to why I became a locksmith.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug MacQueen View Post
    Given that the time period when those were made was not know for having a lot of lighting at night, I give it a thumbs for a drink to find the keyholes. It could have been me standing outside at night in the rain. I won't even admit to why I became a locksmith.
    The reasoning/idea behind it, is nice, but I think "we" (future generations) came up with it just to give it a reason/explanation. I feel that they were simply ornaments for the "looks" of it, but of course, I am not sure.
    The problem is just that I can not find a single (well documented or old) source that links it with the practical usage of finding the keyhole in the dark.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    140
    Country: Germany

    Default

    in german we call it "schlüsselfang"
    it means keycatcher
    it is for leading the key into the lock

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