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ID number:  BIRRC-H0019
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  University Heritage Collection
Artist / Maker:  Birmingham Guild of Handicrafts
Title / Object name:  Commemorative key
Object type:  Key
Date made:  1900
Materials:  Brass, velvet, satin
Measurements:  Length of key: 21.5 Box: 27x 12.5x 3

Commemorative key in hinged leather case, with velvet and satin lining. There is a crowned lion at the top of the key, and an ornate handle, which includes the Royal insignia and Univeristy of Birmingham crest. ‘Birmingham University’ is inscribed along the stem. The bit is also ornate in design, and includes the Royal insignia.

Condition: verdigris corrosion to case lining on top right-hand side. Right hand hinge is broken. Clasp is broken. Key is corroded to brown

Inscriptions / Translations:  'Birmingham University'July 7th 1909.

Notes:  This ceremonial key was presented to King Edward VII at the University of Birmingham opening ceremony in the Great Hall. There are many elaborate features of the key relating to both the University and the King. More specifically there are two large royal insignias, and an inscribed stem which links to a University of Birmingham shield. The crowned lion at the very top of the key is a heraldic symbol used largely in military decoration.

This key is an example of the strong tradition of metalwork in Birmingham. It was made by members of the Birmingham Guild of Handicrafts under the supervision of Sir Aston Webb (the architect who designed the original university buildings) and was presented to Edward VII at the opening. The original key had a handle of solid gold, with the shaft and wards made of wrought steel. Three replicas in bronze were also made. These were presented by the Guild of Handicrafts to the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, the Principal, and the Vice Chancellor of the University as mementos of the occasion.

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