El Lissitzky, man with keys (1920s).
Antique key pistols.
First used in the 16th century, key guns allowed a jailer to keep his weapon throughout the entire extremely vulnerable process of opening a cell door, thus never leaving him unprotected. Well, all except for the times when he’s actually using the key/barrel end of the pistol to disengage the lock. That’s right, key guns weren’t just shaped like keys to throw people off or disguise their nature as pistols — they’re both functional keys and functional pistols
Key guns, 1600s
‘Jailers’ keys were apparently filled with gun powder to create a primitive gun that could be detonated if there was any trouble when opening a cell door. We found several original versions that back up this claim, dating from the 17th century and of various complexity.’