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Collectibles, James Cagney, Key to New York City, 1981 (Sold)

James Cagney’s Key to New York City
American: c. 1981
Gold-plated metal key, velvet and fabric box, cardboard box
5.75 inches long, key
7 x 4 x .75 inches, outer white box
Provenance: Estate of James Cagney

This item is sold. It has been placed here in our online archives as a service for researchers and collectors.

Key to New York City awarded to actor James Cagney (1899-1986). New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch presented Cagney with the key on November 17, 1981. The key was sold with estate property of Cagney at William Doyle Galleries, New York City, September 30, 1992 as lot 548. The sale was at the St. Ignatius Loyola Church, 980 Park Avenue. It was purchased at the auction by George Glazer Gallery.

Product description continues below.


The key has a gold-plated finish. It is in its original blue velvet box from the jewelry maker who produced it. The box has a gold-wash plaque on the top engraved “Facsimile of Key made in 1812 for the Door of City Hall, New York.” The key bears the seal of New York City and “Mayor Edward I. Koch” in raised letters. The velvet box is in turn in its original white cardboard box, with an identical presentation plate. In addition, the white box has the original square auction sticker, and a star-form gold auction sticker, both from William Doyle Galleries.

James Cagney was born and raised in tough New York City neighborhoods. He started his acting career in the city, first in vaudeville and subsequently on Broadway. In 1930 he signed to Warner Brothers as a movie actor, becoming known for roles as a tough-talking gangster, although occasionally he returned to his roots as a “song and dance man,” most notably in “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” for which he won an Oscar in 1942. After retiring in the 1960s, he received many honors including the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1974.

Provenance: George Glazer Gallery; Estate of James Cagney, Sold William Doyle Galleries, New York City, September 30, 1992, Lot 548.

Additional information


20th Century