The first locks and keys were probably invented by the Egyptians around 4,000 years ago, but since they were made of wood, they haven’t survived. Once keys and locks started being manufactured of metal—especially bronze, which doesn’t rust away as iron does—they became collectibles. There are many reasons why collecting keys and locks is a great hobby. They are cheap, easily available, and have great decorative potential. Skeleton keys consist of a bow (the part you turn), a handle and a combination (the part inserted in the lock.) Many of these antique and vintage keys have highly decorative designs on the bow. A set of Victorian keys in different sizes, for instance, might be beautiful when arranged and framed against a background of red velvet. You can wear an ornate key on a silk cord as a necklace. You can make simple lapel pins by gluing a jewelry backing on one. You could even weld or glue several together to make an impressive brooch. If your home is older, leave them sticking out of door locks, or from the locks of cabinets, sideboards or pianos. String several together to create a unique wind chime.Because they are so plentiful, keys are a very inexpensive collectible. Often they are sold in large lots, and even very old keys can be had for much less than comparable items from the same era. Because of their availability and lack of expense, keys are a great way to introduce young people to the joys of collecting.