The Lure of the Key

The keys in your pocket right now are probably pretty boring. Mass-produced, stamped out without care, and used without thought, they’re nothing more these days than a tool.

​But that hasn’t always been the case—and the large numbers of key collectors the world over know better than anyone. In Lure of the Key, William Wallace draws on more than thirty-five years of collecting keys to offer a richly illustrated history of the key from the Middle Ages to 1900. Paying particular attention to the incredible innovations and craftsmanship of the period around 1700, the zenith of creative keymaking, Wallace invests his history with a clear sense of the pleasure and excitement of key collecting (or cagophily)—after reading his account, you’ll never take even your dull modern keys for granted again.

Written by William Wallace
156 pages, 100 color plates
Published by University of Chicago Press, 2017
Clothbound
9.75 x 11 inches



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