Q: I bought this lock and key in an antique shop in Ohio in the 1960s. It is cast iron and about 15 inches long. Later I was told it was one of four owned by a French violinist and was used on one of the entrances to his estate in France. I was also told that one of the four locks is in a museum in Germany. I've collected locks and keys for many years. This is my favorite and I would like to find out more about it and its value. Can you help?
A: You have a gate lock made in the late 19th or early 20th century. The fingerboard or neck of the violin is detachable so that it can slide onto the J-bolt. It isn't one of four rare locks, however. We found similar violin locks for sale on several online sites. Some locks had different decorations, but the size and shape were the same. Some sellers described it as a "Spanish-style lock," some claimed it was European, and some said they found the lock in Mexico. A violin lock was also displayed at the Jehning Family Lock Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Your lock may not have been owned by a French violinist to lock the entrance to his estate, but it's a good story. Similar locks sell for about $200.