Flea Market Find: KEYS

Such giddiness yesterday!

Just a small fraction
Pat and I went out to a local flea market/yard sale yesterday. We perused the booths him looking for tools, me for anything that can be turned into jewelry (obviously). The fourth or fifth booth we hit was little more than a card table and a blanket on the ground with STUFF spread all over. It's a wonder I ever saw these treasures.
I didn't measure, but this was well over two feet long

There was no way the vendor didn't recognize my interest and excitement as he showed off the few skeleton keys and the ancient skate key. I was prepared for him to sell the keys in small sets or for an astronomical price.

I was surprised when he said the whole bunch was FIVE DOLLARS!
The skeleton keys and skate key are in this poor picture

Pat handed him a twenty, but there was no change to be had. I immediately asked if he would hold the keys for me while we shopped, and we'd definitely be back for them with a lower denomination bill. He was more than pleased to do so.

As we explored the other booths, I found some chandelier crystals (pictures later) and that purchase broke the twenty. We headed back for my chain of keys. All we had was a ten and four ones and the vendor STILL didn't have change. I convinced Pat to just give the gentleman the $10 bill for the keys, I thought it was well worth it.
Just a few of the lengths of keychains in this score

Pat says we've got to work on my flea market skills. Apparently, paying double is NOT a good thing. As well, I need to restrain my excitement when I find something I like. In particular, I shouldn't gasp and proclaim "LOOK!" when I discover a cool item. You live, you learn.
There were all kinds of cool pieces in the mix of keys including this little lock

I spent a good deal of yesterday afternoon dealing playing with of the keys. I started by taking the keys off the dozen+ carabiners and then the countless number of key chains. A few of my nails were broken in the process. I washed the grime off my hands at least three times. I minimally sorted the keys into three piles: all metal, metal and plastic, and those in need of DEEP cleaning. When weighed, the "all metal"/kinda clean keys were almost EIGHTEEN pounds!! The other two piles were much smaller. I even started cleaning the keys but didn't make much of a dent. I may go into that process later as I perfect it.
Check out the awesomeness of these!

It sounds like these keys are going to be a little bit of work for me, but I'm so excited about them. What do you think? Was it a good deal?

And do you have any tips on cleaning or ideas for projects with them?


  1. yes, great find...at first I thought were gonna pay 20 :)

  2. What a SCORE!
    You are going to have so much fun with these. I am looking through the pictures saying to no one buy myself "Look at that VW key! Look at that skeleton! Look at the red one!" I am getting smirks from the girls.
    I can offer nothing about cleaning and use, but I will surely be tuning in to see what you make.

  3. DWhite- I might have paid that much if that's what he had asked. I was absolutely giddy all day after we found these. You wouldn't believe it!

  4. I don't think I could've kept my cool either -- what a treasure trove! I spotted one with "Sears" stamped on it that looked particularly fun. Aw heck, they ALL look fun!

  5. That is a fantastic find! I found a jar of keys once and paid $10 still think it was the sweetest deal ever.

    Thanks for stopping by today, off to peruse the rest of your blog!

  6. Total score! I have a pile I discovered this summer at my mother-in-law's house who couldn't figure out what the old keys went to and said "sure you can have them" ... I slinked away with a crafty smile :)

    But confess, I haven't figured out how I will clean them without ruining the finish? do you have advice?

  7. Cynthia (Ha, I finally found your name!)- A while back I made a similar score from my grandmother. She realized I was designing with keys and pulled out an old band-aid tin full of keys including a bunch of skeleton ones. Though she gave it to me, I have a hard time using them since I know some of them go to doors in old family houses. I have to get over that though. As far as cleaning them, I'm soaking a few at a time in a tub of hot, soapy water for a few minutes then scrubbing with some baking soda/water paste with a toothbrush and then rinsing. The ones that are still not very clean/I can't see the designs, I'm rubbing with a very fine grit of steel wool. I found some instructions for some other steps like soaking in a jar of vinegar (to get the brass shiny) or in some coca-cola (to get rid of rust). I haven't gone to that extent yet. I'm just starting with a good surface clean for now. Feel free to contact me if you want any more info! And, thanks for stopping by.

  8. O wow, that is a fabulous find! I was drawn to the Sears key, and the one with the three circles just a little above it. So pleased to have discovered your awesome blog, and am now following :)

  9. 18 pounds, wow, that's a really big collection, lucky find ♥ I do see an old vw key, too- I once had a VW Bug or Beetle or whatever the insect was called lol. Your cleaning instructions sound good, I did see something about using a wirebrush wheel or a tumbler, no personal exp I just searched the net. Thanks for stopping at my blog, I'm on your gfc now, too. See you again!

  10. thanks Hope! will try that! I agree on wanting to hold on to the keys as they clearly have been 'in the family' a very long time. But we tried the keys on all sorts of doors - and not a one fit? so strange.

  11. Cynthia- That's not weird at all. I have keys on my personal key chain that I don't know what they go to. . .THAT'S a pain! ;) Have fun with yours. I can't wait to see what you create!

  12. This was a great deal and well worth the $10.


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