Travel chest lock mechanism from Walnut Grove Plantation, an old stirrup, and a wrought iron spoon?

With all of the quarantining going on, I was able to get a little preservation work in on some items which really needed it. First is this really cool lock mechanism from some sort of old chest, or trunk, or strong box. This was found at historic Walnut Grove Plantation just outside Union, W. Va. I wish I knew the story behind it. It cleaned up really nicely.

Walnut Grove Plantation
Another post I did on Walnut Grove Plantation’s connection with the Houmas House in NOLA.

I believe the little thingumabob above the keyhole was longer and has broken off. It would have covered the keyhole and swung off to the right when a key was inserted. The hole to the left was for the hasp of the lid to lock into.

I was pretty happy with how well the internals remained intact on the rear of the mechanism. These might hold the clues to dating it.

I’ve scoured the inter webs to find one just like it. But so far, no luck on finding an exact one. Many, many of them are very close. This is the sort of setup this was used on, though this one is most likely older than mine.

This one is the National Anthem Trunk I did a post about previously. It’s circa 1812, and is very similar. You can see the back on this one, and it’s almost identical from the back.

A few others we have.

Now this one is very similar. You can see that the keyhole cover is pretty much identical. This is how it would look had it not been broken off. And the more that I think about it, it very well may have been broken during its working life, rather than while in the ground. This design looks pretty fragile. Fortunately, this one below is dated 1810, which gives us a better idea of the date of the one I found.

A few other examples of old travel chests with the same basic lock mechanism. These were in the Guthmann Collection from the 2006 auction.

This old horse stirrup was found in the yard at Willowbrook. It wasn’t complete, and I haven’t yet found the missing pieces. It had a solid foot piece on it. I know this one is old because it was in a pit where everything was early 1830’s or earlier.

My brother in law, Frank Richards, found this in-tact stirrup of the same design, also in the yard – though not in a pit. It seems to be a little smaller, perhaps for a child or woman. But it also has a solid foot piece, and appears to have the same top portion.

Here’s another stirrup found at the fort by Bill Burns. This is an example without the solid foot piece, and has a rectangular top portion.

Here are various examples in Neumann’s Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Of course, the design didn’t change all that much. I’ve seen stirrups found on Civil War sites of the same general designs.

This seems to me to be a wrought iron spoon, which is a first for me. I’ve found nickel plated or silver plated tin spoons of various sorts, but never one that appears to be forged from wrought iron. It wasn’t completely apparent at first, but check out the cleaned up product.

It cleaned up just like you would expect wrought iron to clean up. It’s pretty thick. It has an overall length of 8 inches and has some weight to it.

I found a modern example of a blacksmith forged iron spoon made by Nafzger Forge. This one is 9 inches:

Here’s another one by the same blacksmith that’s 7.5 inches, so roughly the same size as the one I found. He doesn’t list the weight, but I’d love to know.

The concave side of the spoon.

I suppose it could be cast iron, but it really doesn’t seem like it. I’m not expert in identifying wrought iron vs. cast iron, but it has an uneven surface and texture, and has no design whatsoever, which you generally see with cast iron. It also seems to have had strength to it, and held together well.

The convex side of the spoon.

This was found in the 1830 or earlier era pit, and was found with 18th century style rat tail pewter spoons. I have no doubt that this is old. There was nothing in this pit even approaching Civil War age. While it’s certainly possible to find later spoons dropped around the yard from later occupation, this could not have seeped into the old pit in such a way.

Some of the pewter spoons found in the same spot:

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