Now was research time - I had done a bit of research during that first week but looking again at all the Google hits I realized that this was one of the rarest J-38 keys manufactured by the Lionel Corporation of N.Y. The full name of the Lionel company was engraved just below the knob on the base. Now the key is not perfect but a little cleaning will bring it all back to an acceptable 'shack' showpiece condition.
In the coming weeks I'll showcase a few more finds. My collection isn't huge but I do have some interesting keys. Bob Ellis, VE3DUB (Dirty Uncle Bob), now a silent key, got me interested after seeing his collection way back in 2002 - here's a photo of Bob and his collection and his ham station.