WHERE ARE THE BANKS
by Norman Sherwood
"WHERE oh where has my little dog gone?" was a favorite song for the songsters of a by-gone age. But I have changed it around and I plaintively murmur "Where oh where are the Banks of yesteryear?" Particularly the Old Toy Mechanical Banks which used so to delight the public with their cute tricks and antics when a penny was deposited therein. Yesteryear were as plentiful as the snow flakes and now they are gone, melted away as rapidly as last winter’s snow itself—Ah! but not quite completely, and therein lies all the charm and allure of collecting. It is because quite a few of some Banks do still turn up for the beginner, and because a distractingly few rarities continue to appear, that keeps the advanced collector, who has long since acquired all the easy ones, in a constant state of breath taking suspense, relieved just often enough by his finds to keep his appetite whetted for more and still more, and his enthusiasm always at the fever pitch which only the true collector ever really understands and experiences.
The Woodsman who swings a Coin in his Axe, and deposits it in a Tree Trunk. The Girl Rolling a Hoop, the Ping Pong Players, The Girl who Smacks the Coin into the Bank through a Croquet Hoop with her Cute Little Mallet. All of these banks like the Indian Rope Trick have been reported and vouched for by many chroniclers, but where oh where are they and why can’t we find at least one or two of these? After all we are not asking for half a dozen in the original cartons, just as they were packed away fifty years ago in the toy dealers warehouse.
I can always console myself regarding banks which I have heard of but have never seen with the comforting thought that "perhaps they do not really exist, after all." I have long since reached the conclusion that the Boy who Whips the Circus Animals is the Merry-go-round Bank and that the Darkey Eating the Slice of Watermelon is the Little Driver on the Bad Accident bank, but how about those occasional lovely and rare banks like the Fortune Teller, the Preacher Behind the Pulpit, the Bowery Bank, The Wishbone Bank, Dinah and the Good Fairy, The Chinaman with Rat on Tray, of which one specimen only has to my knowledge found its way into a collector’s hands?
Please tell me where the others are? Where one bank has survived surely others should be available, hidden away neglected, unhonored and unsung on shelf or in attic or barn or as many a Bank has done, serving as a door-stop.
A friend of mine suggested to me the other day that nine out of ten people never even have heard of Old Mechanical Banks having any value (have my efforts to spread word to the contrary been indeed so unavailing), and still another suggestion is that many banks have rather obscure methods of admitting the coin and may well be regarded by a generation who never used them or saw them in action, as just old toys and are not recognized as banks at all! Here is a suggestion:—next time you go to "Bank Night" at the Movies why not resolve to on the following day have a "Bank Afternoon" and search all the unlikely places in house, barn or attic, to couple treasure trove in the way of Rare Old Banks would make your afternoon as profitable as the Bank Night before, I assure you!