Share your favorites on Show & Tell

Help identify type of skeleton key!!

In Tools and Hardware > Keys > Show & Tell.
lzenglish's loves495 of 709Royal Scots BugleBritish WWII Air Raid Patrol steel helmet. 1938.
Love it
Like it

rockbatrockbat loves this.
lifehouse117lifehouse117 loves this.
artisloveartislove loves this.
KydurKydur likes this.
fortapachefortapache loves this.
blunderbuss2blunderbuss2 loves this.
lzenglishlzenglish loves this.
fhrjr2fhrjr2 loves this.
aghcollectaghcollect loves this.
See 7 more
Add to collection

    Please create an account, or Log in here

    If you don't have an account, create one here.

    Create a Show & TellReport as inappropriate

    Posted 5 years ago

    (1 item)

    I came across this key and was told it was from circa 1855. I assume this is some type of master skeleton key. The end of the key unscrews and the individual keys slide out so that you can make any type of variation you want. Anyone know for sure or have seen this type of key before?

    Unsolved Mystery

    Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.

    See all
    13 Vintage Old Look Skeleton Keys Lot Bronze Tone Jewelry Beauty
    13 Vintage Old Look Skeleton Keys L...
    Vintage Lock With Key Set Drawer Cabinet Wardrobe Cupboard Jewelry Box Hardware
    Vintage Lock With Key Set Drawer Ca...
    Jj34 Antique Victorian Skeleton Key Dolphin Fish Bronze Lot Barrel Ornate Rare
    Jj34 Antique Victorian Skeleton Key...
    Impressive Pair Antique Georgian Style Keys, Large & Complex
    Impressive Pair Antique Georgian St...
    13 Vintage Old Look Skeleton Keys Lot Bronze Tone Jewelry Beauty
    13 Vintage Old Look Skeleton Keys L...
    See all


    1. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 5 years ago
      I believe that was called a "pass" key. Basically the same thing as a master key. Quite uncommon and worthy of research.
    2. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 5 years ago
      That's basically what it is but mainly for key makers to make keys for locks with missing keys I believe.
    3. artislove artislove, 5 years ago
      or burglary equipment...!
    4. Earthling_ Earthling_, 5 years ago
      Some mid-19th century locks were made so that the key that locked it had to be the key that opened it.

      For example, a bank manager is concerned that someone over time gets enough of a look at his key that he is able to replicate it. If he were to, once in a while, change the bitting of his key, any attempt to open the bank with a key made by hand and observation would not work at all.

      For this purpose locks were made that essentially rekeyed themselves each time they were locked. Your key could be to such a lock.

      How it would work: The levers in the lock are raised to the proper height for the lock to open. The key bits were re-arranged before locking up. The new bit combination on the key would lock the lock and reset the levers to accept the "new" key. The same key with the new bit arrangement opened the lock the next time.

      This was also accomplished by lock companies providing the end user with several keys to choose from when locking up. But the re-arranging of the bits was a simpler way of doing the same thing. Unless some bits were dropped and lost while recombinating the key, that is.

      On the other hand, this was not the only use for re-arranging bits on a key. A locksmith could also examine the keyway of a lock and determine the bitting of the lock and make up a key to open it. For an example of this being done look around for a copy of the 1963 movie, "The Cracksman", starring Charlie Drake.

      -- Earth

    5. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 5 years ago
      Great info Earth. When I was going to aviation school, a neighbour gunsmith & locksmith taught me how to pick locks but of course they were the newer type. Never knew this & found it very interesting. Of course I never used those skills for anything illegal. LOL! Maybe questionable, but never theft!
    6. jasonkey, 4 years ago
      This would be what is known as a changeable bit key, circa mid 1800's. It was likely used for a safe lock. Variants of this key come with as many as 16 or more changeable bits to them. I'd love to have this key in my personal collection. It would sell quite well on eBay should you desire to part with it, and if not, enjoy owning a unique piece of lockmaking history.
    7. lifehouse117, 4 years ago
      I love that key. I want it!

    Want to post a comment?

    Create an account or login in order to post a comment.