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Sale of Art School key to help fund restoration

Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed the key that was used to open Glasgow School of Art in 1899.

A ceremonial key designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and used to open Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is to be auctioned to help raise funds for the building’s restoration.

Experts said the key has not been seen in public since the opening ceremony in 1899.

It was presented to Sir James King, then Lord Provost of Glasgow, after the front door of the renowned building was unlocked.

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The key was passed down through the King family to the current day Sir James King who hopes its sale will encourage  others to contribute to the Mackintosh Campus Appeal and help restore the building following a fire in 2014.

Sir James said: “With opportunities provided by the restoration of the building for a new era for GSA, it seems entirely fitting and the right moment to hand over the inaugural key to a new patron.

“My namesake, the first baronet, was twice Lord Provost of Glasgow and a leading business figure in the city of his day.

“If this beautiful and symbolic key can help unlock even just a little support from today’s entrepreneurs to restore Glasgow’s cultural masterpiece in its School of Art, it will have done its job inspiring future generations.

“A percentage of the sale will be donated to the restoration fund.”

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A 2014 fire extensively damaged the Mackintosh-designed Glasgow School of Art (Danny Lawson/PA)

The key will be part of the Decorative Arts: Design Since 1860 sale at Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh on April 11.

The auction house said it will also make a donation to the restoration fund.

Professor Tom Inns, director of GSA, said: “This key is a beautiful and highly poignant reminder of that heritage at a time when we are focused on the sympathetic and authentic restoration of the Mackintosh Building.

“We have cause to be grateful to many charitable trusts, companies and individuals, across the UK and overseas, for the financial support they have given to our Mackintosh Campus Appeal and we are particularly touched by the generosity of Sir James King and Lyon and Turnbull for their commitment to donate a percentage of the sale price of the key to the Appeal.”

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