The journal of design and manufactures
Review of patterns: metals, pp. 138 ff.
Metals: Ornamental Keys. Utbitb) f Vatterns. METALS. ORNAMENTAL KEYs, manufactured by J. Chubb, London. One of the great reasons of the excellence of much of mediwval design was, that, in almost all cases, the manufacturer was led to take a personal pride and interest in the productions of his establishment, and frequently in the emulation excited by the admiration and approbation of his guild. Those old trade associations did an infinite deal of good: they maintained feelings of benevolence one toward another, they led to sociality and the exercise of much charity; they assisted in rewarding the industrious ap- prentice and in punishing the idle; they prevented the admission of quackery and uneducated professors, by regulating the qualifications, to the practice of their trade; and in all these several ways tended to elevate the social position and self- respect of the tradesman as tradesman. Now, when too many of our manufac- turers go with the hounds, shoot in Scot- land, send their sons to Oxford, and teach their daughters that inanity is refinement, "sinking the shop," as it is called, and leaving the conduct of every part of their business (except, perhaps, the financial) to understrappers whom they despise, what chance is there that the branch of commerce they practise can receive any dignity or improvement from their connexion with it? So long as the immediate object of supplying the public demands, in the most wholesale way, with the cheapest things, is carried out, their mission is fulfilled, and every grace beyond that point may, they consider, "a' gang tapsalteery, oh." To such individuals as these, men like Mr. Chubb appear in the happiest contrast. From year to year, from month to month, some new and ingenious device appears to issue from his manufactory, and every possible tour deforce that the locksmith (proverbially the most skilful workman) can contrive is given to the world. Sometimes we have a new puzzle sufficiently complicated to distract a sphynx; sometimes a wonderful iron chest strong enough to confine the fiercest of those wonderful Arabian "Jins" (or genii, in the vernacular), and yet all managed by alittle bit of a key fit for the waistcoat pocket; sometimes we have a lock we can scarcely lift, sometimes one equally complicated set as a finger- ring. All this manifests a spirit of real pride in the dignity of the handicraft, which is most commendable. Mr. Chubb's thousands of common locks main- tain his business; but these are the cream of life, the pastimes of the artist. Latterly, to "meet the times," Mr. Chubb has most successfully revived some branches of the ornamental portion of his trade, producing keys which for elegance of form rival the charming specimens of the middle ages, and for per- fection of workmanship are perhaps unique. It was in the 16th century, both in Germany, Italy, France, and England, that the art of the locksmith was at its highest perfection; and the keys were likewise treated, as M. de la Barte remarks in his interesting "Catalogue of the De Bruges Collection," during the 16th and 17th centuries, "as absolutely artistic objects." Nothing could be imagined more graceful than those little figures in the round, those escucheons and armorial insignia, those ornaments and piercings, with which the end of the key was enriched; that part which is grasped in the hand, and for which we have substituted a common ring. Many of our readers have, doubtless, experienced the disgust we have our- selves felt at seeing a fine old oak or walnut cabinet fitted up with an abominable mortice lock, and opened by a miserable sixpenny key.
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