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Anyone know what these could be for?

Posted by aliciaandbilly (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 15, 13 at 10:22

When my husband and I bought our 1925 Dutch Colonial Revival just north of NYC, we found these keys on the fireplace mantle. We've tried every keyhole in the house, but they seem to be for something other than a door or cupboard. Anyone have any ideas? Could they be for a clock?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

Pocket Doors


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

Interesting! Have you ever seen keys like this for bypassing carriage doors? The main house still has all of its original doors (none of which are pocket doors), but we know from pictures provided by a previous owner that the garage originally had sliding carriage doors.


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

Our they radiator keys for letting out steam


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

Hmmmn, those are are identical to pocket door keys. Are you SURE you don't have any? (-: Sometimes, people overlook them. We've had friends in the house dozens of times who never noticed ours until they were opened up. Once in a while, too, people close up the opening, even though the doors are still in there....

Pocket door keys photo: photo keys_zps36980f91.jpg


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

Haha. Trust me - I've inspected this place from top to bottom and luckily very few changes have been made. Just received confirmation from the original owner's niece that the house never had any pocket doors, so no clue what the keys are from. They were sitting in the base of the fireplace sconce with a clock key and weight and a St Christopher metal with the original owner's initials engraved on the back. Definitely an odd assortment of items.

Thank you so much for identifying the keys!


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

Since the keys don't match & you don't have pocket doors, maybe someone was a collector.

BTW - What distinguishes them as pocket door keys is that the end folds down or adjusts so that the key will be flush when the door goes in the wall.


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

They look like gas keys to me. This would explain why they are in the fireplace. They turn on the gas. but I could be wrong


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

The gas key for my old fireplace has a square opening in the end to fit onto the stem of the gas valve, and the handle doesn't bend


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

A new jamb was often added over the split jamb on the pocket door side of the opening, then the trim (casing) moved onto it.

Short of prying some things apart there may be NO indication there is a pocket door concealed in a wall.

I have removed any number of casing pieces to find the doubled up jamb underneath that hid long forgotten pocket doors.

You are then left with how mch wrk you want to do to try and restore them.
May of the older ones ran on brass tracks in the floor (long since removed) and metal wheels in the door bottoms (sometimes just pushed back into the pocket and buried).

I even came across one that had an iron X shaped expanding linkage in the pocket that extended the door out of the pocket (track rod with sliding pieces on the side of the door and far end of the pocket).
It was a nightmare to repair instead of replace.

A huge version of the small bathroom mirrors you can pull out to bring them closer.


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

I grew up in a 1930s home that had a key to open the fireplace vent or flue. You inserted it in a little hole on the fireplace itself and cranked its little heart out. I don't remember what the keys looked like, however. Did you check the fireplace for such a hole?

Also, those are two different keys, right? So two different functions.


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RE: Anyone know what these could be for?

My house was built in 1891 and major renovation occurred in 1903 when electricity was installed. They removed a wall with a large pair of pocket doors and moved a fireplace.

We are the 3rd owners and the 2nd owners had no idea of the changes until I found the drawings in a pile they gave me.


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