Black text on a black and white photo of a horse with black numbers and letters in the background.
Buttons made by The Whitehead & Hoag Co. Newark, N. J. U.S.A. Pat April 14, 1896, July 21, 1896
William “Doc” Key was a former slave educated by his master and his master’s sons. Key was a self-trained veterinarian and was always known to have extraordinary skills of animal communication and healing. After adopting a weak foal that was not expected to live, Key treated the horse with his own medicines. He named the horse Jim Key, giving it his own last name. Through kindness and patience, Key taught Jim how to read, write, spell, do math, tell time, sort mail, use a cash register and telephone, and engage in political debate. From 1897 to 1906, Key and Jim performed all over the nation, always with the message of the “power of kindness”. Over ten million Americans saw the duo perform, making Key one of the most famous African Americans of his time and bringing together many races of people. A quote attributed to Time Magazine declared, “This wonderful horse has upset all theories that animals have only instinct, and do not think and reason.” Though there was, and still is, debate as to how Jim performed his tasks, the important message of treating animals humanely has lived on.
This button depicts "Beautiful" Jim Key spelling his own name, and the numbers in the background were most likely used to count and do math.