Just as lock collections vary in size, focus, and cost, lock collectors themselves vary even more. This hobby encompasses those of all levels of financial status, all ages, from children to retired locksmiths who have lived with locks for many decades. Some lock collectors prefer to keep their hobby close, only sharing their interest with a few confidants while others like to share their collections and knowledge freely on the web (see Resources below).
The adage goes, that you don't have a collection until you have three of something. It is that easy to get started... get three locks! A word of caution though... there are many fake and fantasy locks produced and posted in online auction sites with deceptively high starting bid prices. Going by the "cool factor" of these locks, and a price that would make you think it is worth something, can easily fool the unsuspecting new (and sometimes experienced) collector! Fortunately there are resources to help you sort through the trash, to find the treasure. In addition to online sources you will find that lock shows (such as the Lancaster Lock Show) provide an environment where rip-off artists would be run out of town. This isn't to say that bad deals cannot be made at shows, but you will be among people who want you to have a good experience in the hobby.
Buying Locks Online
Shows being what they are, the biggest and most accessible source for buying and selling antique and collectible locks is eBay. As mentioned earlier, you must be careful out there, but some of the best deals to be had are in online purchases. We're not going to get into all of the searching and buying strategies here, but just to encourage you to begin your searching there.
Developing a niche
If you simply search for "padlock" on eBay, you will get thousands of search results. There is simply no end to the number of locks you could buy. While there are collectors who will buy any lock that suits their fancy, they are rare and likely have a lot of money tied up in locks that would be hard to sell.
The Lancaster Lock Show is an inspiring venue to discover your own, very special niche. You will see the complete spectrum of antique and collectible locks. Selecting a niche can be a dynamic and rewarding activity which develops over time. If you begin by buying locks that have broad appeal to other collectors, and you realize that your niche has changed, you will likely be able to recoup your investment by selling those locks. Once you establish a niche, and make it known to fellow collectors, you will discover that they will help you to fill it. That is when the hobby gets really fun and rewarding!
Lock Collector Associations
Lock collector associations are the hub where lock collectors meet, where shows get their roots, and where information and news about lock collecting is disseminated. They are very inexpensive to join, and provide regular publications written by world renowned experts.
We look forward to seeing you in Lancaster!