✅ SOLVED An odd key and knob?

lenmac65

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I dug these two odd objects from the same hole at a pre 1850s homesite. One item has the barrel of a skeleton key, but the end does not look like any door key I have seen. Perhaps it is a lantern part? The knob item is interesting, as it has two bands of alternating X’s and O’s with a flower pattern in the middle. It is hollow and does not seem to have any threading. Perhaps a dresser knob? Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks! IMG_6296.jpeg IMG_6301.jpeg IMG_6298.jpeg IMG_6300.jpeg IMG_6299.jpeg
 

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lenmac65

lenmac65

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Interesting key. It's what's known as an "Odell" key or "French latch lifter" and typically used for doors... both in dwellings and on cupboards and cabinets. The design was invented c.1792 and was used at least until the end of the Victorian period.
You definitely nailed the key ID, perhaps in record time 😁. I just did a search using the key name you shared and found some good info. Now I feel like I didn’t quite get skunked the other day. Thanks!
 

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Red-Coat

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You definitely nailed the key ID, perhaps in record time 😁. I just did a search using the key name you shared and found some good info. Now I feel like I didn’t quite get skunked the other day. Thanks!

You're welcome. I have seen them before. The best explanation probably comes from the Queens College Cambridge website:

"The key is physically small compared to other door-keys of the period, and therefore convenient to carry. The lock was operated by inserting the key into a horizontal slot, then simply lifting the key. Once the cut-outs in the key had cleared a ward inside the lock, then lifting the key would directly lift a finger attached to the back of the inside latch: there was no mechanism inside the lock. The outermost part of the ward was a plate obstructing any attempts to operate the lock with anything other than a key designed to pass around the sides of the plate."
Odell1.jpg
Odell2.jpg
 

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Almy

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Thank you for the key and lock education. I've never encountered one before but easily could in the future. Now I'll know what it is!
 

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lenmac65

lenmac65

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You're welcome. I have seen them before. The best explanation probably comes from the Queens College Cambridge website:

"The key is physically small compared to other door-keys of the period, and therefore convenient to carry. The lock was operated by inserting the key into a horizontal slot, then simply lifting the key. Once the cut-outs in the key had cleared a ward inside the lock, then lifting the key would directly lift a finger attached to the back of the inside latch: there was no mechanism inside the lock. The outermost part of the ward was a plate obstructing any attempts to operate the lock with anything other than a key designed to pass around the sides of the plate."
View attachment 2117769 View attachment 2117770
Thank you! I found that website after you enlightened me as to what I had dug. It does give a nice description. I am thinking my key is early 1800s, as the site pre-dates the area’s 1850s maps and the buttons I have found there are all 1810 -1830s, I think. Thanks again for the ID. I am going to mark this thread as solved, as the key has been definitively identified and the other object is likely just a dresser knob.
 

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lenmac65

lenmac65

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Thank you for the key and lock education. I've never encountered one before but easily could in the future. Now I'll know what it is!
Red Coat is a wealth of knowledge for sure. I am always impressed by his detailed explanations of things.
 

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pepperj

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Thank you! I found that website after you enlightened me as to what I had dug. It does give a nice description. I am thinking my key is early 1800s, as the site pre-dates the area’s 1850s maps and the buttons I have found there are all 1810 -1830s, I think. Thanks again for the ID. I am going to mark this thread as solved, as the key has been definitively identified and the other object is likely just a dresser knob.
I was going to ask does the key fit inside the knob?
 

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lenmac65

lenmac65

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I was going to ask does the key fit inside the knob?
Thanks. Fair question…. It does not. This key would have fit in a slot shaped like an upside down T on some sort of door, e.g., an entry door.
 

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Gare

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Great FIND !!
 

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