Inventory no.: 3266

Straits Chinese Silver Key Hooks


Three Straits Chinese Silver Key Hooks


late 19th century

length: approx. 7.5cm, without keys; combined weight: 80g

These three little clips were used by Straits Chinese of Singapore, Malacca and probably Penang to suspend keys from their belts. Of solid, repoussed and pierced silver, each is decorated with typically Chinese motifs.

One has three keys attached. Another has one key and an old silver Straits Settlements five cents coin, dated 1900.

The product of local Chinese silversmiths, each is stamped to the reverse with a local Chinese maker’s mark. One has the mark for ‘Jin Cheng’, another ‘Jin Ji’ and the other ‘Li Chang’.

Each also shows ample wear from handling. This is important: they are not later reproduction pieces.

Ho (1984, p. 103) illustrates several related examples and comments that he often wonders about the origins of Straits Chinese keyholders because he not seen keyholders of Chinese or Malay origin which might have served as prototypes.


Ho, W.M., Straits Chinese Silver: A Collector’s Guide, Times International, 1984.Provenance:

private collection, UK.

Inventory no.: 3266



Peranakan Chinese keyholders from Java.

‘Jin Ji’ shop mark and mark for pure silver ‘Zu Yin’.

‘Li Chang’ shop mark and mark for pure silver ‘Zu Yin’.

‘Jin Cheng’ shop mark.