Has anyone else found tiny dollhouse keys that were obviously meant to really unlock something?
February 7, 2012 7:31 PM   Subscribe

A pair of tiny dollhouse-sized keys with teeth that are obviously made to fit a specific lock. Has anyone else ever seen these?

When I was about 7-9 (which would be about 89-91), my dad got this huge box of small toys from a second-hand shop. There were all kinds of toys in there, new and old, (e.g., bart simpson figurine, tiny roulette wheel, little cars, etc.) In amongst these toys were two tiny keys, one a deep maroon, the other black. I lost the black one pretty immediately, but I held on to the maroon one for years and may still have it packed away somewhere. Anyway, they were made out of plastic, but they were perfect reproductions of real keys. They were skeleton-key type keys (I'm sure there's a name for this), but the teeth were exact, and you could tell that they fitted a specific lock, like to a dollhouse. The plastic seemed old, at the time, and the detailing on the keys was really amazing. They keys themselves were probably about half-an-inch long, which is why I found them so unusual. So well-made, so obviously made for a purpose. Maddening!
Ever since I've had the internet, I've searched for what these keys might be, or what they may unlock, but to no avail.
posted by ellaminnowpea to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A long shot, but is there any chance that they're the keys to a diary? I had a diary that locked that came with two little keys, maybe more like an inch long... I wouldn't have said the were particularly well made, but they worked.
posted by cider at 7:47 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

I was also thinking diary keys. Somebody gave me a diary when I was a little girl that had a tiny lock and key which were metal, but otherwise sound like yours.
posted by Quietgal at 7:56 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

They were skeleton-key type keys (I'm sure there's a name for this)

They're keys for a warded lever lock. People sometimes call them "skeleton keys", but that actually means something else— a skeleton key is, specifically, a master key for this kind of lock (and by extension for other kinds of locks).
posted by hattifattener at 8:01 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Other ideas:

-Could be the keys to a (toy, plastic) locket necklace charm.
-Could just be toy keys for a doll (I seem to remember Playmobil or maybe Lego having a set of keys that didn't unlock anything, but still looked like real keys).
-Polly Pocket.
posted by phunniemee at 8:05 PM on February 7, 2012


(More with better shots of the keys. No black one that I can see though so probably on the wrong track.)
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:16 PM on February 7, 2012

Diary key was my first thought as well.
posted by naoko at 11:25 PM on February 7, 2012

Response by poster: No, they weren't diary keys, they were far too small, and the teeth were far too detailed for a child's diary. They definitely weren't from any toy from the 80s onward, and I'm not even sure they were supposed to be toys, really. If you put any amount of pressure on them, they would easily break. i wish I had a picture. Maybe I'll dig around in my things and see if I can find it.
hattifattener - you're right, that's the type of key I'm talking about - I found a picture on wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Llave_bronce.jpg
The tiny key I have/had was even more detailed than the one in the picture.
Thanks for all of your suggestions!
posted by ellaminnowpea at 12:39 AM on February 8, 2012

Maybe to a jewelry box or music box?
posted by spunweb at 1:21 AM on February 8, 2012

Seconding jewelry box.
posted by easily confused at 1:50 AM on February 8, 2012

Dolls houses are generally play scale, 1/12 or (less commonly) 1/24.

I've never seen a locking mechanism in a dolls house, but if it existed it would almost certainly be 1/12 scale... so the to-scale key would be about an eighth of an inch long. What you've got there sounds like a key to a jewellery box/music box/etc.
posted by Leon at 3:07 AM on February 8, 2012

I am going to go with Keys to a locket or possibly a charm bracelet.

posted by The Violet Cypher at 9:32 AM on February 8, 2012

I doubt they were meant to really unlock something. A tiny plastic key would break in any metal lock, and the tolerances of a plastic lock would not be such that any sort of intricacy would be required- in other words, plastic cannot be engineered finely enough for a very intricate key to matter, especially a key half an inch long. If a very intricate key was needed, it would be made out of something with finer accuracy and greater strength, not brittle plastic. They were probably elements of a child's charm bracelet as The Violet Cypher suggests, or possibly some other toy set.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:26 AM on February 8, 2012

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