This is a steel switch key from the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad, a Class I Midwestern U.S. railroad. It is in fine condition with no metal damage.
On one side of its bow is stamped C&EIRR.
On the other side is stamped the serial number 5810 and the letter S for switch. Please notice the Adams & Westlake / Chicago oval hallmark also stamped on this side near the barrel, which dates it to the 1900 - 1920 era.
There is some "finger polish" use wear over the stamping tops - see our pictures please. The color is a glowing silvery gray, with some darker areas here and there but not many. The barrel end and bit edges are nicely rounded.
The bit cut is unusual, so we checked, and found an identical cut in the Knous Official Price Guide, but on an antique, tapered barrel brass key.
An interesting addition to any midwestern railway lock and key collection.
BACKGROUND: The C&EI linked Chicago to southern Illinois, St. Louis, Missouri and Evansville, Indiana. Founded in 1877, it grew aggressively and stayed relatively strong throughout the Great Depression and two World Wars. The beginning of the end was in 1961, when the Missouri Pacific Railroad began to quietly purchase C&EI stock, finally gaining control of the C&EI in May 1967. A stipulation of this merger required sale of part of the railroad to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. The MoPac maintained the C&EI as a separate subsidiary for a few years, but merged it in 1976.