REPORTER DISPATCH, White Plains, N.Y.,
Monday, August 4, 1947
FINE POINTS of mechanical coin banks are described by
M. Lederer, Jr., of 35 Hearherbloom Road. A rare item is that Merry-Go-
Round Bank he holds. Also shown is the "Girl Skipping Rope" (center)
and a dentist pulling a patients pulling a patient's tooth (left
Coin-Grabbers Of 19th Century
Still Fascinate City Collector
By JOHN.F. GOLDSMITH
Cast iron mechanical banks were children's toys 25 years ago, and they
rarely cost more than $1. Today they are collectors' items, worth as much as
An authority on such mechanical banks
is Richard M. Lederer, Jr., of 35 Heatherbloom Road, who owns one of the 10
best collections in the country.
Mr. Lederer started collecting seven
years ago. He advertised in magazines, visited junk and antique shops and
peered into dark, cobwebbed corners of friends' attics. Now he has 240
varied coin banks standing in rows in glass cases in his office at 285
Madison Avenue, New York. He's still advertising, visiting and peering.
A short, well-knit prematurely bald
man of 30, Mr. Lederer is a former Military Police Police captain who works
with his father in the investment management business. He is full of
information about the history of banks — where, how and when they were made
and who made them.
Most ingenious of all the
contrivances, he thinks, is the "Girl Skipping Rope." James H. Bowen of
Philadelphia, the designer, took two pictures and 2,000 words to describe
his product to the U. S. Patent Office.
The bank will not take a coin until
you push a lever, which releases a spring and permits an iron girl to skip
rope while moving her head from side to side.
A sure collector of coins of the
curious is a rifleman who shoots money into a slotted tree stump.
Then there's a dentist pulling a
reluctant patient's tooth. Place a coin in the dentist's pocket. Then press
a button. Out comes the tooth while the dentist falls one way, the patient
topples over backward in his chair and the coin drops into a slot.
A coin's. weight motivates the "Boy
on Trapeze." After a coin is put in a slot in his cap, the boy rotates on a
bar. A penny turns him once, a nickel twice, a quarter three times and a
50-cent piece six times.
"One of my friends," said Mr. Lederer,
"wants to try it with a $20 gold piece."
Not all toy banks are mechanical the
White Plains collector pointed out. He named four general types —
mechanical, semi-mechanical, registering and "stills." Registering banks
show the amount of money deposited. "Stills" simply hold money.
The first popular mechanical bank,
which appeared in 1869, was patented by John Hall of Watertown, Mass., and
manufactured by the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn.
A few banks were made of ,wood, but
most were cast iron. Iron founders, who now manufacture cap pistols, turned
out banks from 1869 until the late 1920s.
Leading, manufacturers were Stevens,
the Shepard Hardware Company of Buffalo and Kyser arid Rex of Philadelphia.
Production stopped when the cost of labor and materials became prohibitive.
Mr. Lederer explained those colorful
banks with their eye-catching antics were primarily toys. Unlike modern coin
banks, they were not boosted by banking firms to encourage thrift.
Such a bank's relative scarcity is a
guide to what collectors will pay for it. In Wethersfield, Conn., said, said
Mr. Lederer, Mark Haber, another collector, has refused $2,500 for the only
known complete model of one bank.
When .Mr. Haber makes a deposit, a
mechanical man sweeps a coin off a table and thumbs his nose.
Mr. Lederer gave two reasons why
banks are rare today: Either their mechanism was so intricate that they were
easily damaged or destroyed, or the mechanism was so simple that they were
uninteresting, did not sell and were not produced in large quantities.
Professor Pug Frog's Great Bicycle
Feat" is a typical complicated bank. Guided by an involved series of springs
and release levers, Professor Pug Frog pivots and drops a coin into a slot.
So simple it never caught the
public's fancy and is now a rarity is the "Barrel with Arms." You push the
arms down to let a coin drop into the barrel.
Coin bank collectors have no official
organization. They're gregarious people, however, and like to swap gossip
about their hobby. In New Rochelle, William F. Ferguson, a vice president of
New York's Bank for Savings, puts out a periodic chat sheet, which he sends
to his fellow collectors.
Five-year-old Barbara Lederer approves of her father's
banks — but casually.
"I think they're nice, " she says.