Why do I collect old keys?

Everyone has a hobby, but not all hobbies have beautiful, romantic tokens as their keepsakes. Collecting keys is a unique and exciting way to express many things – a love for history, an eye for aesthetics and a passion for liberation.
Keys have always symbolized power, knowledge and success. The ability to unlock things that would otherwise remain hidden has always been a literal and symbolic motif. Writers often take creative liberties with the key, and some of the most insightful notions have been etched into our common lexicon. “The keys to the kingdom” and “the keys to your heart” are often used to spice up everyday speech, and everyone knows what the phrase means.
Using a key as a tool, you can unlock special rooms, valuable cabinets, treasure boxes, a magical wardrobe or a personal journal. When you find a key randomly on the ground or behind a desk, your first thoughts are often, “What can I open with this? What secrets do I now have the ability to access?”
I did not have the ability to articulate all of these feelings when I bought my first key as a keepsake from an antique store. I just knew that I had a crush on keys for some reason. They spoke to me. I had always been curious about their power and mysterious aura, and eventually, I simply started a collection that would help me express my wonder.
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On the left and on the right, Keys for opening furniture drawers. In the middle, a vintage skeleton door key, early 20th century. Note the very well worked pannetons of the middle key.
3C Style – Photography by Marie-Claude Viola
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A very special key in metal with ovale ring crafted: the first one I bought, 14 years ago.
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Wonder what treasure or secret these keys may have opened? Perhaps a drawer full of love letters? A mysterious garden door? A wedding chest?

 

Currently, I have about 75 keys. I have collected each of them from different places. Some of them I have received as a gift from friends. Others I have found on travels around the world. I use them in my home decor and even as personal jewelry (I sometime wear a Victorian inspired key around my neck on a necklace).

Celebrations and superstitions

While building my collection, I learned more about the lore of the key as well. Most importantly, I found out that I was far from the first to hold the idea of the key in such reverence. There is so much superstition and ceremony surrounding keys that I did not know!
For example, the Ceremony of the Keys is a famous celebration that takes place in the Tower of London every single night. The ceremony is a gate closing ritual that is performed by Yeoman Warders, often called Beefeaters.
In the Jewish culture, midwives will often put a key into the hand of a woman who is in the middle of childbirth. The key is meant to be a sacred representation of the unborn infant. It “unlocks” the secret of birth and helps to ensure a successful delivery.
In Eastern Europe, a common superstition is that a key brings good dreams and keeps away evil spirits in sleep. In many households around the area, you may see keys hung upside down above the bed on the wall.
After I learned many of these ceremonies and superstitions, I began to step back and question my love for keys. I wanted to be able to articulate my interest to the world. What exactly did these keys mean to me, and why are they so important in my life? I still have not wrapped my mind completely around the answer.
The more that I learn about keys, the more I find out there is to learn. I am actually happy that I know that my hobby is more of a lifelong pursuit that will continue to unlock new feelings and thoughts in me. You might think that the keys I collect are for show – they have no practical purpose in terms of opening things. You are wrong. They are opening my mind and my heart as we speak!
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Oups! I think I’m the one who took his key. Sorry. – Drawing by Umanbn (Thanks Mark)
Texte en Français
Tout le monde a un passe-temps, mais pas tous les hobbies ont de beaux symboles romantiques empreints de souvenirs. Collectionner les clés est une façon unique et excitante d’exprimer beaucoup d’intérêts – un amour pour l’histoire, un goût pour l’esthétique et une passion pour la liberté.
Depuis la nuit des temps,  les clés symbolisent le pouvoir, la connaissance et le succès. La capacité de découvrir des choses qui resteraient cachées a toujours été une source d’inspiration littéraire et symbolique. Les écrivains prennent souvent des libertés créatives en songeant aux clés, et certaines des notions les plus perspicaces ont été gravées dans notre lexique. “Les clés du royaume” et “la clé de ton cœur” sont des expressions souvent utilisées pour agrémenter le langage quotidien, et tout le monde sait ce que ces phrases signifient.
En utilisant une clé comme outil, vous pouvez déverrouiller des pièces secrètes, des armoires précieuses, des boîtes à trésor, une garde-robe magique ou un journal personnel. Lorsque vous trouvez une clé par hasard dans la rue ou derrière un bureau, vos premiers réflexions sont souvent: «Qu’est-ce que je peux ouvrir avec ça, à quels secrets ai-je maintenant accès?
Je n’avais pas la capacité d’articuler tous ces sentiments quand j’ai acheté ma première clé dans un magasin d’antiquités. Je savais juste que j’avais un béguin pour les clés pour une raison quelconque. Elles m’inspiraient. J’avais toujours été curieuse de leur pouvoir et de leur aura mystérieuse, et finalement, j’ai simplement commencé une collection qui m’aiderait à exprimer mon émerveillement.
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À gauche et à droite, clés destinées à ouvrir des tiroirs de meubles. Au centre, une clé de porte vintage, début du 20e siècle. On remarquera les pannetons fort bien ouvragés de la clé du milieu.

 

Actuellement, j’ai environ 75 clés. J’ai rassemblé chacune d’elles de différents endroits. Certaines, je les ai reçues en cadeau d’amis (es). D’autres ont été trouvées au hasard de voyages. Je les utilise dans ma décoration intérieure et même comme bijoux personnels (je porte parfois une clé d’inspiration victorienne autour de mon cou sur un collier).

Célébrations et superstitions

En construisant ma collection, j’ai aussi appris beaucoup sur les traditions reliées aux “pouvoirs” des clés. Plus important encore, j’ai découvert que j’étais loin d’être la première à percevoir les clés avec une telle révérence. Il y a tellement de superstitions et de cérémonies autour des clés que je ne connaissais pas!
Par exemple, la cérémonie des clés est une célébration célèbre qui a lieu dans la Tour de Londres chaque nuit. La cérémonie est un rituel de clôture des portes qui est effectué par des gardes de la royauté, les Yeoman Warders, souvent appelés Beefeaters.
Dans la culture juive, les sages-femmes mettent souvent une clé dans la main d’une femme qui est en train d’accoucher. La clé est censée être une représentation sacrée de l’enfant à naître. Elle “révèle” le secret de la naissance et contribue à assurer un accouchement réussi.
En Europe de l’Est, une superstition commune est qu’une clé apporte de bons rêves et garde les mauvais esprits dans le sommeil. Dans de nombreux foyers de cette région, vous pouvez voir des clés accrochées à l’envers au-dessus du lit sur le mur.
Après avoir appris beaucoup de ces cérémonies et superstitions, j’ai commencé à prendre du recul et à questionner mon intérêt profond pour les clés. Je voulais être capable d’articuler mon intérêt aux gens. Qu’est-ce que ces clés signifiaient pour moi, et pourquoi sont-elles si importantes dans ma vie? Je n’ai toujours pas de réponse précise et claire.
Plus j’en apprends sur les clés, plus je découvre qu’il y en a encore à apprendre. Je suis réellement heureuse de savoir que mon passe-temps est une poursuite perpétuelle qui continuera à déverrouiller de nouveaux sentiments et émotions en moi. Vous pensez sans doute que les clés que je collectionne sont seulement pour l’apparence – elles n’ont après tout aucun but pratique en termes d’ouverture des choses. Vous avez tort. Elles ouvrent mon esprit et mon coeur au moment même où je vous parle!
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Do you collect anything? Let me know in a comment below. – Est-ce que vous collectionnez quelque chose? Laissez-moi un commentaire.
Thanks for your visit. Stay strong, stay stylish! – Merci de visiter mon blogue. Soyez forte, soyez stylée!
Let’s stay connected: Bloglovin – Instagram @3cstyle_fashion

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78 Comments

    1. I know. I’m asking myself the same questions… Very inspiring actually. Same with your blog BTW. I did mention you as well in my recent 3C Crush. Thanks so much Mark for allowing me to use your beautiful illustration in my post. Have a lovely weekend. -Dominique

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    1. Update: my husband bought the box in an Antique Shop in… England! Not China, like I said previously. There are some Chinese inscriptions inside that’s why I was so sure that he had got it from one of his trip there. He does not, unfortunately, remember the name of the shop.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. If I find it, I will sent it to you I promise! 💕 I thought you collected aquariums!!! Roman jewellery???? You never cease to amaze me, Darren. What made you start the ancient coins and roman jewellery?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Don’t know. Collected coins for a time as a kid. When I started work and had some money I bought some more special ones from dealers but this was well over 20 years ago. From memory it includes a 1797 cartwheel twopence piece which were only made that year and used the idea that coins should contain metal of the face value of the coin. Two pence bought a lot of copper in 1797 so the things are huge! There are also some 9th century anglo saxon coins, some roman ones, a couple of bronze roman finger rings and a bronze arrow head. I will open the box one day!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. This is interesting Darren. You should use those in your home decor. Apart from being nice to look at, these kind of objects are a great conversation starter whenever you have guess at your home.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alison for your lovely comment. Like I said previously, I’m trying right now to organise the collection. It involves some researches and I love it. But there are not much info on the Web with precise descriptions of keys. I have found two interesting books on the subject… Lots of fun ahead! And so many DIY projects in mind with those keys. You will most definitely hear about keys again from me. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elena! Miss you my friend. You never heard about my collection? I was so sure you already knew everything there is to know about me. 😊 It’s true that the box in which the keys are into used to be in my office, for my pleasure only. Like everything else in life it is so much better when we can share it. Glad I did this post! Hope we will see each other soon! I miss our chats over a nice cup of tea. 💚

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    1. I think so too, Megala. Also like the historical sociology aspect of the keys. I am reading right now Chopin’s correspondence and it is fascinating to find out how important keeping and hiding letters was… And of course it involves fine cabinetry and keys!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Martina. While I was browsing the Web in search of info for this post I was amaze to find out how many people are collecting old keys. I am far from the first to hold the idea of the key in such reverence. Have a lovely week my friend. 😄

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  1. Wow…this is so cool, I’ve never thought of anyone collecting keys. I used to collect buttons a long time ago, I guess that passion is dead now. I collect pictures now, really pretty pictures mostly fashion or aesthetic inspired. Very unique writing… I love!❤❤❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Apart from my passion for collecting old keys, I also like beautiful and delightful messages like yours. I’m touched and please to say that I’m adding them to my brand new collection of Positive Feedback… Hi, hi. Thank you for stopping by my site, Golibe. Happy new year! All the best with your studies. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I love it: “Blog mother”! 😂 You’re so funny. If I sent you to your room to study will you listen to me? Take care Golibe! Speak to you soon I hope. 💃

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  2. Fascinante publication que voilà ! Je collectionne aussi les vieilles clefs, que j’aime écrire de cette vielle façon. Je n’ai jamais su pourquoi et ton texte m’éclaire beaucoup sur mes propres motivations. Jamais sû non plus cmt les mettre en valeur. Merci pour ces idées fantastiques. Ps: j’en possède beaucoup moins que toi et j’ai des anecdotes” à la Silvana” à te raconter (autrement dit pas disables)!
    A+ 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Eh bien, voilà une chose que je ne savais pas de toi Imelda. J’aimerais bien voir ta collection. Moi aussi j’aime écrire le mot “clef” écrit avec l’ancienne orthographe. Pour le blogue, j’essaie toutefois d’utiliser la nouvelle orthographe. Je veux absolument, j’insiste!!!, entendre tes anecdotes “pas racontables” (sauf à moi)… Hi, hi 😂

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    1. Collecting mugs? Oh my… Hope you have lots of spaces in your house! The “things” you mention I imagine they are souvenirs from your travels, special moments in your life, items that remind you of your family and friends such as old cards and other stuffs with so much meaning… That’s why we hang onto some of our things, right? My feeling is you are a sentimental, Tony. I have to admit I am a little too. I do have a few “things” like that as well! 😀

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  3. Dominque, this is a precious post and I just adore it! Your collection is so interesting but even more so are your thoughts and information about keys…your final sentence sums it up beautifully! ‘They are opening my mind and my heart as we speak!’ Some have such an intricate delicate design, others more chunky…each key has a story to tell…my mind is spinning with story ideas now. Lovely to have met you here on WP! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly my feelings, Annika. These keys are so inspiring indeed. I could spend many hours daydreaming… Ditto, Annika. Very happy to have met you on WP. Here’s my key 🔑 Visit me anytime you want!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful article and passion! And thanks so much for writing about those different traditions too – I never knew and it´s incredibly interesting! And I like how you said that they open your mind and heart! And to use them as jewelry sounds so great! I can imagine it must look wonderful! xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Sarah. When I like something it’s all the way and I try to have as much fun as possible with it. Planning some DIY with old keys. Hope it will be easier than the origami. Big failure for me so far but I have not given up yet. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that the origami earrings haven’t turned out as planned yet. Is it the making of them or the coating? Because I had some big trouble coating them at first, I always used to much lacquer and they lost their form. It was better to apply two or three very thin coatings instead of one.

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    3. Oh my… I’m not there yet. Still can’t make them the size I want. It’s nice to know in advance there is another challenge waiting for me… Origami is just like reading a novel. You never know when the next vilain will come ahead… At least, now I am prepared to what is waiting for me with my origami earrings! 😉

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    4. You are so kind! 😍 I’m really touched. I have a big smile on my face right now. I have not given up yet though… I will let you know soon if origami agrees with me or not. Thanks again Sarah for your lovely thoughts. You are just Amazing!

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  5. J’ai adoré lire cet article, maintenant j’ai vraiment envie de me lancer à la recherche de vieilles clefs haha Les traditions et croyances liées à cet objet mystérieux sont vraiment fascinantes 🙂
    Pour ma part la seule collection que je n’ai pas abandonnée est celle des pièces de monnaie. C’est fou de voir à quelle point elles peuvent être différentes selon les pays, j’en ai qui ont un trou au milieu, et même certaines qui sont carrées !

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    1. Des pièces carrées! De quel pays? Époque? Je suis vraiment intriguée. J’avais adolescente une énorme collection de timbres… Puis l’intérêt a disparu. Hormis les vieux bouquins que j’aime aussi, je ne collectionne rien d’autre que les clefs. Ce qui est tout aussi fascinant avec les pièces de monnaie c’est justement leur aspect socio-historique. Est-ce que tu utilises ta collection comme élément de décor chez toi?

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    2. Ce sont des pièces qui viennent des Caraïbes (les miennes datent des années 90), elles ont des formes assez originales, elles ne sont pas toutes rondes et simples. Pour l’instant j’ai toutes mes pièces stockées dans deux grandes boîtes, une pour les dorées et une pour les argentées, en attendant de savoir comment les mettre en valeur. Moi aussi j’ai une énorme collection de timbres et je ne sais quoi faire de tout ça ^^ Les collections prennent vite de la place mais c’est très dur de s’en séparer 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. J’aime tellement l’idée des pièces de monnaies de formes différentes… Tu pourrais mettre les pièces de ta collection dans un coffret de thé. Il y en a de très jolis. C’est ce que j’ai fait avec des coquillages, souvenir d’un voyage en famille à la plage. J’ai donné ma collection de timbres à un ami il y a plusieurs années. De savoir que lui en profite et que le cadeau est apprécié me fait grand plaisir. Comme tu le dis, ça prend de la place et on ne peut pas tout garder. C’est comme bien des choses dans la vie, parfois il faut… “Laisser aller”. Pas toujours évident, je comprends parfaitement.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Cris. Collecting keys makes me daydreaming a lot too. I get these beautiful inspirations when I look at your stunning pics as well. Have a great weekend my friend. xoxo

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    1. I’m glad it resonate with you. 😍 Old keys hold so much mystery… So much to learn. It looks like it will be a lifelong pursuit for me. Thanks for your lovely comment and your visit.

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  6. I heard to keys can open your heart so that you can unlock the soul? Is that just a legend or something real to that? Or maybe you never heard that before. My grandmother used to say that to us when we were kids… Just some food for thought and great post and thanks for putting your heart into this…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was raised by my grandma and she used to tell me that as well. My guess is anything coming from the heart can unlock the soul… If not of the person we love at least mindfully touching our own. Thanks for your visit. Nice to met you. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It was nice to meet you as well and I hope that our journey will carry us forward to many positive things in this world. And your blog is really nice it is refreshing seeing what your soul is saying on paper. So with this said take care and I will do my best to keep following your amazing stories and stop by from time to time to dropping you a line… Take care and many blessings…

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