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Do William H. Key dies still exist?

ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited October 16, 2020 12:53AM in U.S. Coin Forum

I was reading a biography of William H. Key in the dual efforts to find out where their family emigrated from and his middle name. While I haven't discovered these, I did discovery that William Warner acquired many of Key's dies and created restrikes. Are Key's dies known to still exist?

The following is from D. Wayne Johnson's blog:

Philadelphia Engravers Among America’s Unpublished ‘School of Art’

Philadelphia medalist William Warner acquired many of Key’s dies produced privately (no Mint dies) and struck these on his own. Key was one of the most productive American engravers (and possibly some unsigned dies of the U.S. Mint and of Warner were his creations).

Comments

  • RexfordRexford Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, I handled one cancelled die of his about a year ago, hidden away in a library archive. I'm going to make a thread about it at some point but I want to find an example of the medal itself for my collection before I reveal what it is.

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 6, 2019 12:09PM

    Key's role as an Assistant Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint was mostly limited to wreaths, ornaments, logos and the like. He made all of the "In God We Trust" Gothic font logos for George Morgan's and William Barber's pattern coin designs. He was given an opportunity by Dir. Linderman to create an "ideal head of Liberty" for US coins but his produce was given little consideration.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 6, 2019 12:15PM

    @RogerB said:
    Key's role as an Assistant Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint was mostly limited to wreaths, ornaments, logos and the like. He made all of the "In God We Trust" Gothic font logos for George Morgan's and William Barber's pattern coin designs.

    Good to know. I guess the Morgan and Barber coins should be called Morgan-Key and Barber-Key designs ;)

    He was given an opportunity by Dir. Linderman to create an "ideal head of Liberty" for US coins but his produce was given little consideration.

    Do we know what designs he submitted for this?

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No, he did not contribute to the designs, he only cut the logo.

    I've not found images of Key's Liberty design - they would almost certainly be drawings and not photos of his models.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 6, 2019 12:20PM

    Of interest, the NH Historical Society gives the locations for William H. Key. Combined with the information from Wayne Johnson's blog, it looks like he lived in Camden, NJ while he was working with his father, with John C. Odling, and early in his career at the US Mint.

    Born: 12/07/1832
    Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY
    Died: 02/11/1922
    Death Location: Williamsport, PA
    Residence:

    • Brooklyn, NY
    • New York, NY 1844-1846
    • Camden, NJ 1850, 1860, 1863, 1865
    • Philadelphia, PA 1870-1910

    Here's a career excerpt from Johnson's blog:

    Learned engraving from his father, Frederick C. Key and in business with him (1854-60) as F.C. Key & Son, then in partnership with John C. Odling, as Key & Odling (1863-67). Employed at Philadelphia Mint after Civil War (1864) as assistant engraver to William Barber; he was dismissed in 1885. Listed as engraver in city directories until 1885, but afterwards as engineer, until 1902.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 6, 2019 12:20PM

    @RogerB said:
    No, he did not contribute to the designs, he only cut the logo.

    Well, the coins have wreaths and ornaments which you said he did. When I look at a Morgan dollar, was the wreath cut by William Key?

  • DCWDCW Posts: 6,970 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think this is Key's work:

    I believe @BillJones owns this die

    Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
    "Coin collecting for outcasts..."

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Morgan designed the coin. Key cut various logos, but limited available information suggests Morgan did all the work except the IGWT logo. Key is not entitled to any design credit, any more than someone who punched in mintmarks or digits was.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 7, 2019 7:12AM

    @RogerB said:
    Morgan designed the coin. Key cut various logos, but limited available information suggests Morgan did all the work except the IGWT logo. Key is not entitled to any design credit, any more than someone who punched in mintmarks or digits was.

    Then it’s not clear what Key did for wreaths and ornaments which you mentioned above. Can you be more specific?

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 6, 2019 1:00PM

    @DCW said:
    I think this is Key's work:

    I believe @BillJones owns this die

    Yes, that is a great die that Bill owns, previously owned by Steve Tanenbaum. I wonder if this was one of the dies picked up by William Warner?

    Is there a list of the dies Warner had or strikes that he did?

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Rexford said:
    Yes, I handled one cancelled die of his about a year ago, hidden away in a library archive. I'm going to make a thread about it at some point but I want to find an example of the medal itself for my collection before I reveal what it is.

    Is the die you handled in this thread the Free Academy dies you just posted or a different die? The Free Academy dies don't look cancelled so I'm wondering if you handled yet another Key die :)

    By the way, the Light Liberty Law Free Academy dies look awesome!

  • RexfordRexford Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Zoins said:

    @Rexford said:
    Yes, I handled one cancelled die of his about a year ago, hidden away in a library archive. I'm going to make a thread about it at some point but I want to find an example of the medal itself for my collection before I reveal what it is.

    Is the die you handled in this thread the Free Academy dies you just posted or a different die? The Free Academy dies don't look cancelled so I'm wondering if you handled yet another Key die :)

    By the way, the Light Liberty Law Free Academy dies look awesome!

    Yep :smile: Only the reverse die was canceled. It's hard to see in my image, but it has gouges at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, rather than a more typical X-shaped cancel.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 16, 2020 1:45AM

    @Rexford said:

    @Zoins said:

    @Rexford said:
    Yes, I handled one cancelled die of his about a year ago, hidden away in a library archive. I'm going to make a thread about it at some point but I want to find an example of the medal itself for my collection before I reveal what it is.

    Is the die you handled in this thread the Free Academy dies you just posted or a different die? The Free Academy dies don't look cancelled so I'm wondering if you handled yet another Key die :)

    By the way, the Light Liberty Law Free Academy dies look awesome!

    Yep :smile: Only the reverse die was canceled. It's hard to see in my image, but it has gouges at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, rather than a more typical X-shaped cancel.

    I see it now. Much better to cancel the reverse than the obverse! Awesome and congrats!

  • haw68haw68 Posts: 13 ✭✭

    @Zoins said:
    I was reading a biography of William H. Key in the dual efforts to find out where their family emigrated from and his middle name. While I haven't discovered these, I did discovery that William Warner acquired many of Key's dies and created restrikes. Are Key's dies known to still exist?

    The following is from D. Wayne Johnson's blog:

    Philadelphia Engravers Among America’s Unpublished ‘School of Art’

    The William H Horstmann & Sons Company (Philadelphia) started in business in 1815 and was arguably the preeminent manufacturer of military goods throughout the 19th century. Some of Horstmann's surviving company record books date back to c1845 and document their purchase of stamping dies. Horstmann purchased the majority of their dies from Frederick C Key & Sons between 1845-1862. Other engravers that Horstmann purchased dies from during these years include Anthony C Paquet, William Barber, Alexander C Morin, and Samuel Lowe. Most of these were larger dies used to make military insignia or buckles.

    Many of Horstmann's dies do still exist. Some of the Key dies are marked, 'F C Key & Sons' and others can be identified using Horstmann's company record books. What isn't known is who the actual engraver was for each of the Key dies. I assume Paquet, Barber, Morin, Lowe, and others were working alone and dies ordered from them were engraved by them.

    The earliest surviving dies from the Horstmann company date to c1815 and were engraved by Moritz Furst for George Armitage. After Armitage died his business was taken over by William Pinchin and when Pinchin died his business assets were acquired by Wm H Horstmann & Sons.

    Note, engravers moved to wherever they could find steady work and they would gladly make dies of any design and detail. Collectors and researchers tend to focus on their area of specialized interest.

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,471 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DCW said:
    I think this is Key's work:

    I believe @BillJones owns this die

    Yes, it's in my collection.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?

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