by Norman Sherwood
CONDITION—condition—condition—Now I have no quarrel whatever with the collector of Postage Stamps and Covers, or even the collector of China, Glass or Pottery who insists that a collection piece shall be perfect (fine, or even superb) but Banks are something else again and I shall try to explain this position to the best of my ability.
With Mechanical Banks which lack the original coin doors in the bottom of the Banks and in some cases where small repairs or replacements have been made I would point out that Banks had been made, and sold for the purpose (assuredly in the case of toy Mechanical Banks) of being used, yes. And more of being played with. And there is a vast difference between something which has a class of usefulness that is either a one time usage, like stamps of the sedate usage to which fine china or glass should properly have been subjected and Mechanical Banks which may reasonably have been played with again and again by the loving but not necessarily gentle hands of childhood owners. It just isn’t reasonable to expect that the continuing usage of Toy Banks in the hands of Children should leave them for a later generation in a state of perfection or even near perfection.
True indeed there are exceptional circumstances surrounding the matter of condition as applied to exceptional Banks. There is a bank which has a minor broken part, the break having apparently occurred long ago on the shelf of a toy store. The Bank being worth little at the time was not worth the required expert repairs (for all I know there may not have been any welders available when this happened) and so the Bank went into some out-of-the-way place to turn up years later as an "otherwise-than-the-break" new and perfect specimen of possibly a rare mechanical specimen of possibly a rare mechanical Bank, and more often than not, in the original carton. Here is a bank which some collectors will eagerly go after, but for myself I prefer the scuffed up Bank which for many years was some youngster’s treasured possession and the break which oft-times broke a childish owner’s heart as well, is to me preferable to the one inflicted by the old time Express Agent or careless Store Clerk.
Again a bank may have been owned by an adult or by an extra prudent and careful child; such specimens are doubtless the ones which today we call fine or proof. Another class of Banks in fine condition is the occasional group of unsold Banks recovered from the Jobbers and Wholesalers or even in rare cases from out of the way Country Storekeepers, these banks are the occasional treasures which are to my way of thinking only the well known exception which proves the rule. The idea that Foundrys are a veritable Treasure Trove of Banks has been greatly fostered and exaggerated by rumors of some of the experiences of the author and others who have been fortunate in securing treasures from this source. However it is my considered opinion that these activities are largely in the past tense. I know I was "behind" someone else in most of my searches and researches and if I have missed or overlooked anything, hitherto undiscovered, then I am not such a good researcher as I used to be.