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PATRICK LYON * PANTENTEE
Scottish born American blacksmith, mechanic and inventor working in
Philadelphia…working class hero.
Date/Period: Late 18th or Early 19th Century
Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Patrick Lyon (1779-1829) was a Philadelphia blacksmith
of some reputation and wealth. Born in London, he
moved to America to establish a smithing business there.
In addition to blacksmithing, he also built fire engines and
was renowned for his locksmithing. Early in his career,
the Bank of Pennsylvania commissioned him to make the
locks for their vault and in 1798, when it was robbed of
over $160,000, suspicion immediately fell on him. 1798
was the same year that yellow fever plagued the region
and therefore, Lyon was away from Philadelphia, in
Delaware, with his assistant. Upon his
return and learning of the accusations against him,
he went to prove his innocence to the bank's
president, cashier, and alderman. Despite an undeniable
alibi for his whereabouts, they insisted
that he was at the least an accomplice and had him
imprisoned under a large bail. Unable to
that the robbery had been perpetrated by the bank's porter and a carpenter, who returned
almost all the stolen money, the porter having died of yellow fever shortly after the robbery.
Upon his release, Lyon sued the bank's directors and was eventually granted a sum of $9,000
for the damages to his smithing business and reputation. It is unclear whether this sum was the
foundation of his fortune, but he was able to recover fully from the injury to his business and
went on to amass considerable wealth. Lyon wrote a narrative about his imprisonment: The
Narrative of Patrick Lyon, who suffered three months Imprisonment in Philadelphia Gaol, on a
vague suspicion of being an accomplice in the Robbery of the Bank of Pennsylvania: with his
remarks thereon. (1799). In its introduction, he pleaded for equal justice for rich and poor.
An engraved portrait by Philadelphia artist James Akin is the frontispiece of the work and shows
a 30-year-old Lyon in Walnut Street Prison, incongruously dressed as a gentleman, seated on a
Chippendale chair, and holding a technical drawing and calipers.
Measurement: Base: 11.5" x 4"; Nipper length: 14"
Material: Wrought iron, cast brass, walnut
Additional Information: A nice example, wrought iron, very nice brass baluster post on
circular domed base mounted to molded walnut base. Beautifully turned and incised
handle display great surface, warm patina, and brass ferrule.
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