Harry "Henry J." Coventry (1887-1987), circa 1959. Photo courtesy of Lindy D., a relation of Mr. Coventry's.
HJC = H.J. Coventry, Baltimore MD, USA
Born 1887 in England, died February 2nd, 1987 in Oklahoma USA
Live steam designer (full size and miniature); worked for Baldwin Locomotive Works and the Baltimore & Ohio RR; Professional Engineer; Ace Draftsman
-Supplied the live steam hobby with top-quality engineering-grade drawings, and impeccable metal castings, from about 1920 to about 1979-
Henry J. "Harry" Coventry was born in England in 1887. He came to the USA sometime in the 1910's.
Beginning sometime in the nineteen-teens, he started designing various "live steam" models. One of his first was a 1/2" scale, 2-1/2" gauge Pennsylvania Railroad "K4" Pacific 4-6-2. This model was featured in 1924 in the "Modelmaker" magazine, from which blueprints and castings could be ordered. After this. Mr. Coventry designed a 1/2" scale P7 "President Washington" 4-6-2; a 1/3 horsepower marine compound engine; a 3/4" scale P7 President; a 3/4" scale 0-6-0; a 1" scale 4-4-0 and 4-6-0; a British "Single" in 1" scale, and various other models.
Mr. Coventry sold the finest blueprints and castings available, and did so from his home in Baltimore MD from about 1920 to about 1970. Thereafter, he sold castings from his new home in McAlester Oklahoma.
In the 1970s, he began selling off his foundry patterns and the master drawings, probably just to "raise some cash". The designs that had been "under one roof" and managed by one man since before 1920, were now divided up among various owners. One design went "here", another went "there", and "these ones" all went "somewhere else". And "somewhere else" was not "one" location. It was a half-dozen locations. Only one design, the 3/4" scale P7 President, ended up with an owner who had the ability and the will to keep the design on the market. Miniature Power Products of Canada kept the 3/4" scale P7 on the market from the 1970s to the 2000s.
Most of the other designs were lost, disposed of, destroyed by accident, or left in barns, basements, or attics and then forgotten about. Very few had caring ownership. Patterns and drawings were separated. Some were loaned out and not returned. Some were left at foundries. Some were discarded. Some were sold to second and third parties. And some were just rotting away in barns.
Mr. Coventry died in February 1987, just 5 days before what would have been his 100th birthday. What was left of his designs were sold off at auctions and yard sales.
An effort by a volunteer group to produce a few of Mr. Coventry's designs in the early 1990s didn't get very far....the patterns were destroyed in a fire, before castings could be produced.
Beginning in the late 1990s, and lasting well into the 2000s, I sought, located, and purchased most of Mr. Coventry's designs, and bought the remnants of Mr. Coventry's estate that I could locate. I was fortunate in that I found most of which he sold off in the 1970s, and a lot of which was "split up" upon his death. I bought it solely for the purpose of "getting it back under one roof", and so that it could be produced again.