This is an 1800s antique switch key from the Boston & Maine Railroad. It is stamped B&MRR on one side of its bow. On the other side, maker information is stamped: SHERBURNE & CO. / BOSTON, MASS.
This key has a tapered barrel and a complicated, intriguing bit cut with a 90-degree dog leg, extending beyond the end of the barrel. The brass has darkened to a deep brownish color, with superb patina.
There is light finger wear over some of the stamping - please see our pictures. The barrel end and bit edges are just nicely rounded, documenting use.
There is a clearly old, tiny hole on one side of the key, just above the barrel attachment - see our pictures. This appears to be the way it may have come from the factory; it does not affect anything except appearance.
We could not find much for information about Sherburne & Company, a long time Boston, Massachusetts foundry that began operations in 1865. Its owner was a man named Charles Sherburne, who had begun his career working for the Williams & Page Company, a famous railroad supplier.
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