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about The FIRST   .............     March - 1938

A Monthly Staff Magazine Published by
The First National Bank of Boston and Associated Companies

of Another Color
. . . and Age

WHEN you were a youngster, did anyone ever tell you that to get ahead in the world you would have to learn to save money? ...Yes? ...No? Well in either case your parents or certainly your grandparents were told to save; and besides, shrewd manufacturers of 60 years ago devised a way to make the saving process less painful. The way they did it came pretty close to letting small boys and girls of that day "eat their cake and have it, too." For through the ingenious and amusing mechanical penny banks they turned out the youngsters of that era saved their money and at the same time had a ringside seat to a real performance by human and animal figures which was, and still is, worth a penny of anyone's money. If your grandparents happened to save the banks they used as well as their pennies, the banks would, in most cases, be worth many times the number of pennies that could be put in them.
      Although these toy banks were originally intended only for young people they have long since graduated to the exclusive class of Americana, reflecting the national scene-sought after by collectors the country over. While in many instances bankers are logically numbered among this growing horde of collectors, the largest collection at present is owned by a New York doctor who counts his banks by the thousands; and the race for second position is between an automobile manufacturer and a resident of Brookline, Massachusetts, with present indications favoring the latter.
      The real dyed-in-the-wool collector is not satisfied with single examples. He has from two to a dozen of each kind depending on variations in color or construction or in the patent date on the banks themselves. The slotted non-mechanical type comes in almost endless varieties, but while the ardent collector has them as well, the mechanical banks are his true loves.
      Of the mechanical banks, there are about 250 different types known to collectors today .Some of the rarer ones have brought over $300. The wife of one New England collector, in her husband's absence, couldn't resist an offer of $200 by a dealer for a certain bank which was the only one known of its kind. Naturally she was upset when her husband told her the dealer had resold it next day to a rival collector in New York for $300. But this wife, still undaunted, scoured the countryside and in two weeks had found another of the same design and bought it for $35. Later she found still another. Now she is a collector, too. 
      If you chance to unearth one of these toy banks in your grandmother's attic don't get too excited, for the chances are that it is worth at best only from $5 to $I5 in today's market. Then, too, condition plays just as important a part as with other antiques.
      The period of manufacturing of many of the banks can be determined because of the scenes they represent; such as the "Tammany Bank" of 1783 or the "Theodore Roosevelt Bank" commemorating his African hunting expedition. Yet in general, when these toy banks are not dated, it is hard to date them. Most of them are known to have come on the market in the years immediately following the Civil War and yet there are a few examples in the hands of collectors which from certain indications are thought to have been manufactured even earlier. As yet no book to guide the tyro-collector is available. So he must learn to differentiate between the good banks and the bad by experience. And one excellent way to start gaining this experience is to get someone who has a really large collection to show it to you. You will find him only too glad to point out the reasons why this particular bank is valuable and that one isn't.
      Collections of toy banks are not easy things to house-like stamps for instance -but a really large well-arranged collection is a sight well worth seeing and a treat that does not come to everyone. If you ever get the chance to see one, take our tip and don't pass it up.


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