THE COLLECTOR'S GUIDE,
April 1942, Pages. 21 & 22
Valuable Toy Banks
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
Naturally, with this stiff competition the banks had to be good. Some went so
far as to reproduce, with action, a carnival scene with a merry-go-round, or a
circus act 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 Hardware 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.
As the New York Sun points out, 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 "grandmother's" face, Jonah disappears into the whale, Uncle Sam
nods agreeable 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.
Mechanical banks are wanted by Wm. F. Ferguson, 280 4th Ave., New York; T. C.
Thayer, 74 Wall St., New York; Dr. A. E. Corby, 44 Wall St., New York; Andrew
Emerine, Fostoria, Ohio; Garland Hughes, Grand Rapids, Mich.' Jas. C. Jones,
10902 Edgewater Drive, Cleveland, O.
Herewith are given prices obtained at auction for some old American painted
metal mechanical banks at a sale recently at the Parke-Bernet Galleries.
RIFLE PRACTICE BANK. An infantryman fires the coin through a target and
into a tree trunk. Length 9-1/2 inches. $10.
DARKTOWN CABIN BANK. Colored boy, standing in a door of a cabin, turns a
somersault and kicks the coin under the roof. Height 4 inches. $17.50.
WILLIAM TELL BANK. The above worthy shoots the coin off junior's head
into a tower. Length 10 inches. $17.50
PUNCH AND JUDY BANK. Judy, confronted by Punch, deftly scoops the coin
into a slot at the rear. while dodging the blow. Height 7-1/2 inches. $20.50.
BIRD AND FLEDGLINGS BANK. Two chicks in a nest receive the coin from the
mother bird. Length 8 inches. $32.50.
TRICK PONY BANK. Horse in front of a manger, which receives the coin from
the horse's mouth. Length 7 inches. $20.
MURPHY AND PIG BANK. The pig deftly kicks the coin into the open mouth of
the seated Irishman. Height 8-1/2 inches. $27.50.
SPEAKING DOG BANK. Little girl in red frock seated before an evidently
pleased brown retriever. Height 7-1/2 inches. $25.
BOY BIRD NESTING BANK. Boy on a breaking branch, which falls depositing
the coin in the trunk. Height 8 inches. $30.
INDIAN AND BEAR BANK. A befeathered kneeling Indian fires the coin into a
brown bear. Length 10-1/2 inches. $32.50.
TAMMANY BANK. Seated boss with gently nodding head receives the coin into
his breast pocket. Height 6 inches. $10.
DARKTOWN BATTERY BANK. Three baseball worthies. The batsman misses the
ball (coin), which disappears inside the catcher. Height 9-1/2 inches. $32.50.
HUMPTY-DUMPTY BANK. Bust of the above worthy, who swallows the coin and
rolls his eyes. Height 6-1/2 inches. $17.50.
SURPRISED OWL BANK. The owl turns his head and receives the coin inside.
Height 7-1/2 inches. $10.
BULLDOG BANK. Ferocious black seated bulldog, which evidently swallows
the coin. Height 7-1/2 inches. $10.
TREED MONKEY BANK. A lion with expectant open mouth receives the coin
hurled down by a monkey. Length 9 inches. $30.
ARTILLERY BANK. A bombardier standing by a mortar, which fires the coin
into a tower. Length 8 inches. $22.50.
FIVE BANKS. Varying in form, including a state house, Independence
Hall, Owl, Elephant and Excelsior bank. For the lot $42.50.