Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Don't Open the Door To Anyone!

"I am not allowed to let anyone in. The dwarfs have forbidden me to do so."
Note: It's SO VERY HOT HERE! I'm afraid I was out of prescheduled blog posts the past few days to cover for me while I couldn't get to writing but I have lots of fairy tale news to catch up on! Bear with me while I juggle all the crazy and the health-challenges - there will be news a-plenty to read very shortly. In the meantime... 
While I was searching for images to use for the Snow White slideshow/retelling I found this amazing lock I have to share. Note it took SEVEN YEARS to complete. There's that number again.
The lock was made by an German-born, American ironworker (I would say artist), who worked his way into the Arts & Crafts Society of Boston. This was prior to Disney's Snow White (which was 1937) so the combination of German heritage, minus any strongly influential media representations of Snow White makes for a Germanic representation - with an American Arts and Crafts twist.
In the (very) old book Art and Progress Vol 4 (from 1913), the text refers to the lock, stating: "...Koralewsky's great wrought-iron lock, designed to illustrate the fairy tale of "Snow-White and Rose-Red", is one of the features of display of ironwork." Oops. Clearly the lock is Little Snow White, not Snow White and Rose Red, but even the official museum information today has a small print caveat under the information saying that information is constantly being updated on this piece. I'd love to know why it was made (beyond "it was a gift"). Why so intricate, why a fairy tale and why this fairy tale?)
If Snow White had such a metal-worked lock, care of her little guardians, it may have effectively stopped her from lifting that latch... It would certainly stop me in my tracks every time I approached the door! (Though Snow White doesn't actually open the door, doing as she was told, to receive the apple at the last in the Grimm's telling. Instead she reaches through the window. Apparently we'd need a complementary window latch...)
There's very little information available (that my google-fu can find anyway), except for what the museum has posted next to the artifact itself:
(Designed/created by) Frank L. KoralewskyAmerican, born Germany, 1872-1941Lock1911Iron with inlays of gold, silver, bronze, and copper on wood base50.8 x 50.8 x 20.3 cm (20 x 20 x 8 in.)"Fkoralewsky" on iron surface; "FK" inlaid in copper
Gift of Mr. Richard T. Crane, 1926.521
Frank L. Koralewsky served as a traditional ironworker’s apprentice in his native north-German town of Stralsund. After obtaining journeyman status, he worked in various German shops before immigrating to Boston in the mid- 1890s. By 1906 he was a member of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, specializing in locksmithing and hardware. This extremely intricate lock, which took seven years to complete, exemplifies the early-20th-century taste for sentimental medievalism and represents the pinnacle of the metalworking tradition at the turn of the 20th century. Exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, where it won a gold medal, the lock illustrates Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”— Permanent collection label
Here is the handle (which you can see at the top in the straight-on views), depicting a dragon. I'm also curious as to why the artist chose a dragon...
By the way, can you find the seven dwarfs? They're all there but there's a trick to it...*

I believe the lock is currently on display at the Art Institute in Chicago (the last information I could find was posted in December 2012 but it's in the current artifact/information for this museum so I will have to assume this is here it's currently on exhibit).

I found one other carving by Koralewsky (called a "steel carving", though it appears to be wood) from an old museum catalog but apparently this is not on display anywhere. You can see a similar style to the characters and scene. There's no title, no information, other than that it's by Koralewsky and that it has the tags "metal work" and "craftsman". It looks very much like a tale - with a horse and a King and possibly a mouse (see bottom of the tree) as well as some blacksmiths but I don't know what tale it is.
You can see a selection of amazing and intricate locks by various artists HERE, though the Snow White lock by Koralewsky is the only fairy tale themed one. (Other examples of his work can be found HERE.)
Amazing, yes?

*The seventh dwarf is hidden inside the lock. Now wouldn't that make for an interesting twist to the story?


  1. OH how amazing!!! Thank you so much for finding and sharing this exquisite work of fairy tale art :-) I am in awe of this treasure and would LOVE to see it in person one day!

  2. WOW! so beautiful. there were some truly amazing housewares created in that period of time. would love to see a resurgence of the arts & crafts ethic...

  3. Any plans in the future to make replica's so we can purchase one???

  4. Per an earlier photo, the seventh dwarf is on the key to the lock.

  5. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!.
    Locksmith Johns Creek

  6. Frank Koralewsky is my great grandfather��

    1. How amazing and wonderful is that! I hope you were able to have some heirlooms passed down to you from him. It must be wonderful to have such an artist/artisan in your family. Sometimes it can give you a reason to try creating something you never would have had confidence to before. (I have a famous artist in my ancestry too - sometimes that's awesome, sometimes it's intimidating! Overall, it's a great thing though.) Lovely to have you pop onto the blog!