Not all of our callouts are emergency lockouts and we got a really interesting job this week in St Kilda. Our new client was placing an antique sideboard up for sale and had received a valuation less than what she had hoped for because the sideboard was missing keys. All attempts had been made to locate the original keys to no avail. Our new client wanted to get keys cut for the existing locks as opposed to replacing the locks as replacing the locks would mean the sideboard was no longer a genuine antique, rather it would be a refurbished and modified antique.
We advised the client over the phone that we couldn’t really quote accurately for this job as it was very much dependent on just how old and rare the locks were. If they were a very rare type of lock with intricate and complex mechanisms it would take us quite some time to create a replacement key. In a best case scenario the lock used would have once been a very common style and we would have a suitable skeleton key in stock that we could use to create a new key. If not? It might end up be a multiple day job.
Luckily in this case it turned out to be the simpler variety and we were able to determine what sort of key would be required and how it needed to be cut to fit the sideboard locks in a morning. More than a walk in the park but no Boston marathon either. We got a phone call a few weeks later from the lady who was very excited to advise she had sold the sideboard for a lot more than the asking price. She described how she had aged the keys we provided using a chemical process to make them appear even more authentic.
Some things to think about if you have an antique item of furniture with working locks.
- If you have only one working key get a copy made TODAY. It’s far cheaper to have a backup copy of your key on hand that it is to try and replace a lost one.
- If you do find yourself in the position of having to replace lost keys to antique furniture remember that in order to preserve their value you are going to need to find a locksmith who can pick the lock and make a key rather than simply replace the lock itself as this will reduce the value of your item.
- If you have a key that fits the lock but doesn’t open it don’t assume that the key is wrong… It may well be the lock itself need some tender loving care. Whilst many old locks were built to last nothing is built to last for ever. Locking mechanisms degrade over time, springs in locks my file etc. Don’t throw the key away in haste thinking it’s the problem.
- Speak to a locksmith but also speak to a specialist antique furniture restorer’s who likely have a pile of keys sitting around – you may get lucky and have one of them have a suitable key on hand that fits your lock.