Original Vintage & Restored Leather Keyrings for Classic Cars & Motorcycles


70 years of keyrings

How did it all start ?

The very earliest example of a car or motorcycle keyring or keychain can be dated to 1952 but it was not until the mid to late 1950s that they came into general use .

How did they come about in the first place ?

They may have been the natural progression from the decorative horse brass with a brass medallion mounted onto a leather backing which had been in use on working horses and draught horses working the roads since the 1850s …………..those leather mounted medallions bear a striking resemblance to the present day keyring .

It may not be a coincidence that some of the earliest car keyrings were produced by Heath Machin of Walsall in the UK’s West Midlands – Walsall had been the centre of manufacturing of horse saddles, bridles etc and also horse brasses with products from Walsall being exported all over the world .

Horse brasses were especially popular for use on draught horses working the roads on Britain’s rapidly improving road network towards the end of the British Victorian period .

The earliest car ‘ keyring ‘ was actually a keychain

A keychain  was generally a vitreous enamel badge connected to a splitring or clasp by means of a short snakechain :-

Keychains started to be used between the mid to late 1950s and the use of leather began to appear – notice the leather covered mount surrounding the vitreous enamel badge in the MORRIS keychain pictured on the left .

Torpedo keyrings then started to appear in the late 1950s

Castles Unit Development Co. of Leicester ( the well known CUD Co. ) are credited with producing some of the earliest leather keyrings in the late 1950s and 1960s with their distinctive torpedo shape . These were produced for a wide range of vehicles but began to be replaced by leather keyrings made by other concerns in the early 1960s .

Heath Machin of Walsall produced small leather goods in the town which was famed for making saddles and other leather goods for horses .

They began making their own range of keyrings in the early 1960s and also later produced leather keyfobs for other keyring manufacturers like Melsom Products Ltd of Birmingham .

Melsom Products Ltd of Birmingham came into the market later in the 1960s and produced a vast range of keyrings for most makes of car and some motorcycles .

Motorcycles were catered for specifically by AE Wassell of Birmingham and Sculthorp of London .

Manhattan Windsor of Birmingham  then similarly produced a colossal range of very high quality car keyrings from the 1970s until the early 2000s and also produced keyrings for manufacturers such as Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lotus etc .

Keyrings from the 2000s onwards

Car & motorcycle keyrings  for the world’s vehicles had been produced in Britain for almost 50 years and it had been quite an industry with keyrings being exported all over the world .

All this was to change before the turn of the century however with production rapidly moving to the Far East and the demand for ‘traditional ‘ car & motorcycle keyrings declining with the advent of keyless ignitions and remotes .

However many owners still like to have a traditional leather keyring with an enamel badge hanging from the ignition switch of their classic vehicle – or indeed their modern vehicle – maintaining a link with the past and having that lucky talisman accompanying them on their journeys through life .