One of my newer designs involves lovely vintage skeleton keys. Many of them are either brass or pewter, and they all date to pre-1940's. A skeleton key could open a variety of locks, and wasn't filed or cut to work with one specific lock. They have wonderful weight to them and a sense of intrigue that suggests keyhole peeking and drawing room mystery. Compare that to our keys of today--a plastic fob where you push a button and pop the trunk or a plastic chesse card. Yes, the newer versions are a lot handier and more secure, but we've lost the beauty. I'm sure there are steampunk cheese cards out there somewhere, where some magnificently creative person has added hardware to the plastic to make something magical.
I'm not one of those people who romanticizes the idea living in the past, and wishes it were still Dickensian Victorian times. Believe me, I am way too fond of microwaves, DVD's and reliable indoor plumbing. And I certainly could not wear hoops skirts or corsets every day, in August especially. Plus, I really like antibiotics and the notion of women voting. . . However, even the most seemingly mudane objects were made with more care and detail a hundred years ago. They lasted and aged beautifully. It overjoys me to be able to use something as typical as a key to make a one-of-a-kind necklace. And I wonder where that key has travelled and what doors it unlocked and locked along the way.