Identifying Antique Skeleton Key Shapes

Did you find an old stash of antique master locks and skeleton keys and want to know what they may have been used for? Unsurprisingly, you can learn a lot about a time period or person based on the keys that they owned. While it can be challenging to determine the exact age of a key, plenty of trends can help narrow it down. So, as your local locksmith experts, Hayden Safe & Lock are here to help you out!

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What are skeleton keys?


First, let’s start off with the basics to make sure you actually have a skeleton key on your hands! These keys have a solid shaft with a pre-cut bit that can fit into many different locks around a home. Also, they’re usually made from brass or iron. Skeleton keys have a specific shape because they’re designed to function with warded locks. Warded locks have specific obstructions inside that have to be pushed aside in a certain way.


Identifying key shapes


Aside from the shaft and bit, the bow of a skeleton is typically unique. The bow could be something recognizable, like an animal or logo, or more elaborate with delicate lines. Most often, keys with fanciful and rare shapes are sought after by collectors due to their rarity.


Now, the use of the keys is dependant on the size. They can be as small as one inch, up to about five inches long. So, here’s a quick guide for the common uses for various lengths of keys.


  • Tiny keys: opens jewelry boxes or small locks
  • Small keys: opens cabinets or other medium-sized furniture items
  • Medium-sized keys: opens doors or antique master locks
  • Large keys: opens gates or large locks


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Understanding antique master locks and skeleton keys


Want to learn more about your locks and keys? Need to upgrade your home safety gear? Hayden Safe & Lock is the place to go! We can help install the extra high-security protection that you need. Therefore, we have plenty of experience working with a variety of different systems, so don’t worry! We’ll be able to help. Call us today at 978-744-0988.

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