Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rediscovering childhood fancies

This past weekend Two and I made plans to get together after we were both too unmotivated and tired to go to the latest Internations event, which kicked off the day before. I fully confess to becoming one with my sofa and not having the interest to go back out. This is the danger of going home first then attempting to go out afterwards. It almost never happens.

So the next day we made plans to have a movie marathon at mine and meet earlier in the afternoon for some museum exploring. I have still never really seen the permanent collections at the V&A (my favorite museum here so far for sure) and Two has a fancy membership there that allows us to get into the paid (and unpaid) collections for free. Booyah.

As we wandered the large halls of room after room of glassware, ceramics, Renaissance sculpture, classical paintings, and other historical oddities of excellence and intrigue, we finally found a section that would have made my younger self squeal with delight. I still did kind of do that:

Hundreds and hundreds...of skeleton keys and their fancy accompanying locks. My god. I was in key heaven. The collection they have here is extensive, beautifully preserved, and incredibly intricate.

I will fully confess to having a complete dork-out in the middle of this section. I could not even comprehend the level of excellence that was around me.

Locks like these were made by students trying to get apprenticeships with locksmiths. These weren't even made to be used! These were like someone's final project before graduation!

They were fabulously intricate. Many of them had themes - looking like facades of the buildings they were intending to go on (cathedrals, government buildings, people's own fancy homes).

And the keys, my goodness. So delicately wrought and with so much design and detail. I fell in love immediately - here I thought my collection of 20+ was decent, but no way. None of my keys even came close to the likes of these.

Lastly Two walked me through the collections until we found this treasure, which she'd seen and was interested in before. This is a special lock that not only hid all of its mechanisms behind the figure of the man (you doff his hat to start opening the mechanism then kick his leg forward to get to the keyhole), but also counted the number of times it had been opened, letting the master know if the goods inside had been tampered with since last locking. When the counter reached 100 the lock would hold fast until it had been reset, which was hidden under yet another part of the man's body.

So incredibly clever. And here we thought our locks with their USB keys were so fancy nowadays, this is way cooler!

But enough gushing about my childhood fancy. I'll certainly have to go back to the V&A now, if only to explore more their older collections of wonders like these.

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