The Anderson Lock Gazette features “Tidbits, Miscellaneous & Etcetera” in every issue. This blog is similarly composed with odd but interesting lock and key miscellany.
The first tidbit comes from a 2016 news release provided by Heritage Auctions. Titled, “Edison keys, light bulbs sell at auction”, it relates details about six of Thomas Edison’s keys which sold for $10,625 at a Dallas, TX, auction. That’s $1,770.83 for each key! Only one of the keys opened his 1876 New Jersey lab which became known as the “invention factory.” A set of five Edison bulbs used in a court case sold for $30,000 the same day.
Makes me wonder how much someone would pay for the house key Ben Franklin used when he flew his kite in a rainstorm to demonstrate that lightning and electricity were the result of the same phenomenon. Speaking of electricity…
The second item tells the story of another key sold at auction that same year, in England. A small locker key from the Titanic fetched £85,000 Pound sterling, equal to $109,889.70. That’s $109,889.70 for one key! The “exceptionally rare” item from the famous ship, wrecked by an iceberg in 1912, had been expected to only bring £50,000. According to an online article in www.theguardian.com/uk-news, the key, “which is attached to a brass tag stamped ‘Locker 14F Deck’ is believed to show Mr. Sedunary was on the F Deck the night the Titanic sank. The key was sent to Mr. Sedunary’s pregnant wife, Madge, after his body was recovered and remained in the family until the sale.”
“There was a Nebraskan who swallowed a key…” The third article comes from an undated, yellowed clipping originally printed in a North Platte, Nebraska, newspaper. The headline reads: “Swallowed key is X-rayed, copied” and the story is copied here: “Arthur Richardson thought he’d pull a prank and pretend to swallow a friend’s truck key. Unfortunately, Wednesday’s prank backfired when Richardson plopped the key in his mouth and gravity took over. Richardson went to a doctor Thursday, who X-rayed his stomach and got a clear picture of the key. The doctor said the key posed no danger… but Richardson’s friend needed to use his truck.
So Richardson and his friend took the X-rays to a locksmith, who used the pictures to fashion a new key. And it worked in the truck.
“This is truly a first in my career,” said John Somers, owner of Al’s Lock and Safe.
…and etcetera… My fourth and final tidbit isn’t about keys, and it wasn’t printed in a newspaper. It was overheard on the intercom system at Anderson Lock. One of our customer service representatives paged: “Call on 401. It’s the customer with padlock eyes!” Unlike Bette Davis eyes, no one will write a hit song titled “He’s Got Padlock Eyes”…but hearing that did brighten my afternoon!