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Old Coin Banks
Now Collector’s Item

1938_Burroughs-1.jpg (9473 bytes)So common are coin savings banks to every bank with a savings department that it is a little hard to realize that these stimulants to thrift are becoming important as collectors’ items. Antique shops and dealers in Americana buy and sell them, and coin bank collectors are springing up all across the country.

The hobby got its start with the collection of the mechanical toy bank, popular forty and fifty years ago, and naturally spread to the non-mechanical "commercials" which banks have long given to their savings customers. The result is that many banking institutions which have passed out of existence are well known to collectors. At the same time, many an interesting banking story is coming to light.

1938_Burroughs-2.jpg (10718 bytes)Thus in the 80’s and 90’s, the Traders Bank of Canada (absorbed by the Royal Bank of Canada in 1912) furnished its customers with a replica of its building at Colburne and Yonge Streets, Toronto. The model bank stood about eight inches high and its other dimensions were proportionately large. Under the eaves, along one side, were four slots large enough to accommodate a silver dollar, with spaces for four name cards. The slots opened into a box divided into four compartments, while one end of the bank was hinged, allowing the box to be removed. The bank was equipped with a padlock, the key of which was retained by the Traders Bank. The story goes that these coin banks were distributed throughout the raw Canadian mining and ranching country of forty and fifty years ago—one bank to the ranch, one slot to each ranch hand. At periodic intervals the Traders Bank service man came through the country districts, opened the banks and counted and credited the contents to the accounts indicated.

This idea of adapting a replica of a bank’s building to a coin bank is, of course, often used even today, especially when the bank has a building of which it is particularly proud. A few years ago when the Northern Life Tower first broke the Seattle, Wash., skyline, The Tower Savings Bank (since absorbed by the Seattle Trust & Savings Bank) reproduced the Tower Building in the form of a coin bank. This, like the Traders Bank replica, is now a collectors’ item. It stands about four inches high.

1938_Burroughs-3.jpg (7262 bytes)Also, on the subject of building models as coin banks, many building and loan associations used to distribute model cottages, inscribed with such slogans as "Save for a Home." Some of these are probably still in use. In the light of the current drive for home ownership, this doesn’t seem like such a bad idea today. However, building models represent only a small part of the designs for coin banks. Several banks with the word "Liberty" in their titles distributed Liberty Bells as banks. And the metal barrel with the slogan "Start with a coin—end with a barrel of money," is still used by many banks. There have also been a wide variety of "Treasure Chests" issued at one time or another during the past fifty years. Indeed, from the look of some collectors’ shelves, the variation in design of these coin catchers seems almost endless.


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