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HOBBIES - The Magazine for Collectors, June 1945

MECHANICAL BANKS

By INA HAYWARD BELLOWS

SINCE writing "Old Mechanical Banks," numerous inquiries have come to me regarding banks not pictured or possibly not listed in the book.

There are many banks not pictured for various reasons the book itself being a dealers' and collectors' guide, contains the necessary information, from which deductions are to be made.

From time to time duplicate banks will appear and prices of old models will vary however, it may be said that all banks listed have increased in price since the book was published, along with the increase in price of all commodities, and the banks may be pushed ahead into the next higher class. Some of the more common types such as "Jolly Nigger," Class A, has not increased, as has the "Always Did 'Spise a Mule," of the same class.

The banks depicting a great deal of action, such as the last mentioned, are much more popular, and therefore have become more valuable than those of more simple action. No attempt has been made to list all variants as it has been presumed that the collector would be able to deduct from the printed list at the back of the book the approximate value of his bank.

Banks are individual pieces of mechanism which required skill and time to perfect, and with the fast-moving world of today there is scarcely time to study the workings of these fascinating devices, which motivated the saving of coins. It will be remembered that these so-called Penny Banks really did more toward instilling the idea of thrift in the mind of the youngster than any other one idea of the time, and many financiers can look back and attribute part of their first ideas of thrift and economy to the Mechanical Bank of their childhood days. If a parent said to a child, "Now save this money," it meant little or nothing, but if the same parent said, "Let us see how the bulldog swallows the coin," the same child, buy this sugar-coated device, saved all his coins to see the bulldog work!

Bankers realize the idea back of the banks and for this reason, if for none other, bankers are in the majority as bank collectors.

The world over the Yankee is noted for his ingenuity and thrift, and the penny bank portrays this thrift perhaps more than any other created device of the time. The surprising thing is how quickly the banks fill up, and how soon the money which is saved really counts. However, the idea back of it is that most parents wish to instill in their children's minds a sense of thrift and economy. Most teachers have little sugar-coated devices to teach the children facts, and from my own experience I have found that a child will always remember these, whereas a certain printed page in a book means little.

I have had banks offered me for sale all over the country, some at ridiculously high prices for the most common banks. On one occasion I stopped at a second-hand shop in one of our larger cities, and there reposing on the shelf was a "Jolly Nigger," Class A (Old Mechanical Banks), with the paint somewhat worn, but the action perfect. I asked the price, and the second-hand store man fairly shouted "$25, and cheap at that! Why, there is a woman who will pay me anything for one of these banks." I said "Oh!" and made no further comment so he went on to tell me of the woman having written a book about banks from which he had obtained his information. He said he really did not care to sell it at all as every night he placed it in a night club and every night it was filled with coins which patrons had gladly deposited there, to see the bank work! The proprietor had split profits with him, until now the bank had earned many times what he was asking for it. This rather amused me, but I said nothing because people rather hate to have their "build up" torn to pieces.

On other occasions I have known eating places to have a few of these more common types (that stand rough usage) standing on their counters, and with the money obtained have furthered relief funds. When a patron pays his bill, he almost always receives some small change, and will stop to work these amusing devices.


 

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