Keys were an integral part of the railroad and are a major area of collecting for some folks who specialize only in keys. Keys made for coaches or cabooses have a much longer barrel than keys made for locks so they are easy to spot and distinguish. Coach are also rarer and harder to find, but generally not as many people collect them so prices are often similar to keys made for locks. Some collectors will try to collect keys from a specific maker, others focus on interesting or unique designs, and some will try to collect keys from as many railroads as they can. Many keys can be bought for less than $50, but the rarest keys can fetch over $1000!
Common Maker’s Marks:
ADLAKE – Adlake
A&W CO CHICAGO (oval shaped or in a hexagon) – A&W Company
W. BOHANNAN BROOKLYN NY – W. Bohannan Co.
FRAIM (in a banner or keystone shape) – FRAIM Co.
FS HDW CO (in a diamond shape) – FS Hardware Co.
HANDLAN-BUCK MFG. Co. – Handlan Buck
M.M. BUCK & Co. ST. LOUIS MO. – MM Buck and Co.
SHERBURNE & CO. BOSTON, MASS – Sherburne & Co.
SLAYMAKER – Slaymaker