THE NEW YORK SUN, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 1946, page 25
Savings Official Loses Money in Banks
Itís Childrenís Mechanical Depositories,
Circa 1900, That Rob Him
Robert J. Christensen, assistant secretary of the Franklin Society for Home
Building and Savings at 217 Broadway, has kissed good-by to more coins of a
small denomination lately than he ever thought would be possible in the interest
William J. Dwyer, president of the firm, shows
Norma Dadswell one of the banks that are
on exhibition at the office, 217 Broadway.
Christensen, in charge of the institutionís collection of close to a hundred
mechanical childrenís banks, circa 1900, has so many requests from curious
spectators who want to know how they work that heís bereft of small change
practically all the time.
"Iíve lost more money to these darned things," he explained today,
laying a nickel on the nose of an iron bulldog with an enormous red collar.
Christenson pulled the dogís tail and the coin promptly dropped into its
mouth. "There," he said, "thatís gone for good."
The bankís official admitted, however, that he is sort of fascinated himself
with the intricate workings of the items in the collection, which number
approximately 85 in perfect working condition, plus quite a few which are in the
process of repair.
These are some of the nearly 100 mechanical
children's banks in the Franklin Society for Home Building and Savings.
In this one, the mule bucks, throwing the jockey forward and the coin
into a slot.
This soldier takes aim and shoots that
nickel into the hollow trunk.
The mason here
leans on the wall
and lays a brick
as the hod carrier
dumps his coin.
Wide Range of Ingenuity
The banks, most of which are made out of cast iron and operated by levers or
releases, cover a variety of subjects, guaranteed to tax the imagination of
childhood. Prospective depositors are lured by everything from an Indian
shooting a coin into a bearís chest to a dog which pops out of a kennel and
chases a small boy caught in the act of stealing a watermelon.
"This is a dandy," the bank secretary said, picking up a gadget called
"Dark Town Battery," which was composed of a pitcher, batter and
catcher. He sprang the release and the pitcher deftly threw a penny into the
catcherís "breadbasket," where it disappeared from sight. Isnít
that terrific?" Christenson asked.
Other items in the group, which incidentally is valued at approximately $2,000,
include the Bricklayer bank, where a mustachioed mason leans on his wall and
lays a brick as a hod carrier drops the coin; a mule which bucks, throwing the
jockey forward and the money in a slot; and one called "The Horse
Race," where two horses gallop around a track at the drop of the silver.
"This might be called a form of gambling," Christensen remarked,
adding that "of course we couldnít encourage that."
Patriots and Political Types
On the patriots side, there is Uncle Sam, replete with whiskers and an umbrella,
and whose carpet bag opens as he lowers his arm to deposit the moola, while an
early repository with a political flavor is one called "Tammany," in
which a gent in a yellow vest casually flips a coin into his coat pocket.
"No comment," said Christensen.
"These things have it all over the popular piggy banks," he continued.
"It was hard to get your money back and they wouldnít break when they
were dropped, either. Besides, look at the fun you could have, even if they
missed fire occasionally."
The Franklin Society is a mere flap of the wing, as the crow flies from Wall
street, where a good many big oaks have grown from the small acorns deposited in
mechanical devices like the one on exhibit.
"Many successful men and women of today owe a debt of gratitude to their
parents for the toy banks such as those which started them on the right road
during their formative years," Christensen declared. To prove his point, he
indicated the Wise Pig, a buff-colored number holding a sign which counseled:
"Save a penny yesterday, Another save today; Tomorrow save another, To keep
the wolf away." Christensen thinks it still is a good advice, even with a
modern piggy bank without benefit of mechanics.