|January 23, 1942, NY SUN newspaper
See below for OCR
Habit of Thrift Once Made Fun
Repaid Savings by Doing Stunts With Coin.
Possibly a wave of thrift swept over young Americans about 1865,
when metal mechanical banks began to be widely manufactured to encourage
children to save by making it more fun to put a coin into a bank that
would reciprocate by doing a trick than to spend it for candy.
Naturally, with this stiff competition the banks had to be good.
Some went as far as to reproduce, with action, a carnival scene with
merry-go-round, or a circus with performing clowns and an elephant.
None of these banks reveals its maker's name, though many are
stamped with the patent application. Trade catalogues show that among
the most prominent manufacturers were the J. and E. Stevens Company,
Cromwell Conn.; the Enterprise Manufacturing Company, Philadelphia; the
Kenton Manufacturing Company, Kenton, Ohio, and nameless makers at
Bethlehem, Pa.; Buffalo, N. Y.., and in Massachusetts. The names of the
men who designed the models for the banks also are unknown, but they
were craftsmen endowed with humor, ingenuity and more than a fair share
of skill. In addition to producing a novel design — and there seems to
have been considerable rivalry on this score — they had to make a model
with the many small, intricate parts fitting perfectly and working
smoothly, for if there were the least flaw in the model the cast
reproduction would be spoiled.
The banks that are most like toys are now most highly valued. On
some of them are familiar characters of literature and history. Red
Riding Hood makes her fateful discovery when the mask drops from her
"grand-mother's" face, Jonah disappears into the whale, Uncle Sam nods
agreeably while depositing a coin in a carpet bag. No less popular were
the banks where colored minstrels or baseball players go through
appropriate actions, soldiers shoot coins at targets or Indians hunt
bears. Another popular bank. In spite of its grim subject, shows a
dentist, armed with a pair of huge forceps, approaching his cowering
Negro patient, who falls backward out of the chair as the dentist
himself tumbles over when the tooth is extracted. One of the most
intricate banks displays a little girl who skips rope.
Mechanical banks flourished in trade catalogs through the opening
years of the century, then their manufacture gradually dwindled. Today
less amusing but more scientific coin banks have taken their place.
A group of typical nineteenth century mechanical banks will be
exhibited at the Parke-Bernet Galleries, 30 East 57th street, included
in the sale of property of B. W. Lockwood and other owners from
Caption under photo:
Group of the
mechanical banks which made saving fun for children of an earlier
generation. Part of a collection on exhibition at Parke-Bernet Galleries
previous to auction sale.