THE cover of this issue depicts a group of one hundred rare mechanical banks from the collection of Andrew Emerine, Fostoria, Ohio. The past few years have brought a great interest in the collecting of old mechanical penny banks. This statement can be verified by glancing at the advertisements that appear in this issue. Among these will be found the names of Dr. A. E. Corby, Elmer Rand Jacobs of New York City, and Andrew Emerine. Walter Chrysler, New York City, is another who is said to have one of the outstanding collections of this kind.
Just as Currier & Ives portray events and periods of history so also do the old mechanical banks have a part in recording a picture of the past. For instance, Paddy and His Pig is indicative of the Irish Immigration which reached its peak in the Eighties and Nineties. There is William Tell, Uncle Sam and His Carpet Bag, and numerous others that can be associated with literature, politics, recreation, and other events and persons of the days gone by.
Early mechanical banks appeared about 1865 and reached the peak of popularity about 18890 when there existed some 200 different varieties with moving parts, and a like number of dumb or still banks.
Collectors say that these old penny banks seem to have one thing in common once the coin was deposited inside it was almost a physical impossibility to get it out without taking the bank apart. Once the bank was disassembled it was a task to get it together again for the mechanism is really intricate in many of them.
The collector of these old banks usually is on the lookout also for old catalogs and advertising literature that picture the models and tell about the features. According to Mr. Emerine old catalogs listed penny banks for sale to the general store keeper at $6 to $12 per dozen. The highest price was $1 each. They were in turn retailed at $1 to $2 each, with $2.50 being the highest price.
There are many interesting angles to the collecting of these old penny banks, and there is little wonder that there is a band of enthusiasts pursuing them as a hobby.