Bunnell Skeleton Steel Lever Key, ca. 1898
High Resoultion Images: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5.
This is yet another scarce Bunnell steel lever 'skeleton' key produced between 1889 and 1906. This one is somewhat of a mutt. It was one of my first purchases from one of those vendors on EBay who peddle to unknowning buyers (as I was at the time). While it is indeed an 1889 - 1906 key, I'm almost sure the lower contact on the frame has been replaced with a newer version. In addition, the key was been cleaned to the point that all of the patina is gone. Once I got it in hand I was less than thrilled, and vowed to never buy another cleaned key again. It also woke me up to the fact that plenty of research is required before you buy, and to not necessarilly trust everything the seller says. I hope you learn from my mistake. Do your research! Not surpringly, this key doesn't get a lot of use in the shack, since to me, there isn't much character to it compared to my other weathered keys. If you're interested in buying this key, I'm open to offers. It is rare after all.
If you'd like to read more about the evolution of the 'Triumph' style key, The Evolution of a Triumph by J. Casale, W2NI is a very informative article.
If you're hunting for one of these skeleton keys, here are identifying characteristics:
- Steel lever stamped with patent date of February 15, 1881
- Skeleton base
- "J.H. Bunnell, New York" on left side of frame
- Terminal posts mounted on top of base with fine machine screws (see Image 5 above)
- The holes for screws to attach the key to a board are in line with the trunion posts on the base. The older and harder to find solid base version of this key has the screw holes further inboard.
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