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CATFISH KEYCHAIN


A Brief History of Keychain

Key rings, like the jailer's ring of keys, date back as far as the invention of the lock. Locks were handmade and very expensive. Thus there were relatively few of them. There was little need for key rings to be widely available at that time.

It wasn't until Linus Yale invents the cylinder lock (1848) and mass-produces inexpensive locks that keys proliferated in the pockets of the population. With more people with keys it was not long before a commercially available product was needed to retain said keys. The earliest advertising keychain I know of is from 1869 and the earliest souvenir keychain, to my knowledge, dates to the World's Fair in Chicago, 1893. Both of these keychains are in the collections of other collectors who are also members of the same keychain collectors group I belong to.

Even at this time people had but a few keys, 2 or 3 at most. Then in the 1920's Henry Ford mass-produces the automobile. Shortly there after the first stolen car. This trend forced Ford to use a Yale style locking mechanism to secure his product from people just driving off in them. As cars became more abundant there were more keys. With house keys, car keys and keys for other various items with locks, people needed ways to retain them, but also to identify them from everyone else's at a glance. Companies jumped on this novel way of getting they're name into the hands and pockets of the populous.

Car dealerships jumped on this form of advertising early for obvious reasons. So did most every other company imaginable at one time or another.

By the 1950's keychains were in the pockets of nearly everybody in North America and Europe. By the 1960's keychain collecting was starting to take off. In France in the 60's keychain collecting was a popular hobby that decades later has died down to virtual obscurity.

Today it seems that keychain collecting has but a few die-hard devotees, but the abundance and variety of keychains on the market has never been greater. It is my belief that more keychains are produced every year than are keys or locks. It's like making more hammers than there are nails. Truly a product that screams commercialism at it's basest!

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