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Clown Harlequin and Columbine Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - November, 1951

51-11.JPG (14028 bytes)The Clown Harlequin and Columbine Bank rates second as the most sought after bank from a collector’s standpoint. Certainly it is the most desirable and rarest of all mechanicals made of cast iron.

The bank was undoubtedly designed by J.H. Bowen of Philadelphia, Pa., who also designed Darktown Battery, Creedmore, Bulldog Bank, Owl, Two Bullfrogs, Monkey and Cocoanut, Girl Skipping Rope, Cat and Mouse, Spise A Mule, and The Calamity, whose operation principle is similar to the Harlequin. It’s interesting to note that the construction of the figures on the Calamity and the Harlequin is the same. The Harlequin Bank for sometime has been attributed to patent No. 196966 issued to J. Blanc, November 13, 1877, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, however, the bank actually wasn’t made until 1906 by Stevens in Cromwell, Connecticut, and all indications show the workmanship of Bowen.

The bank pictured was obtained from A.L. Cooper, of Dayton, Ohio, he obtained it from Mark Haber of Wethersfield, Connecticut, who in turn purchased it from the late James C. Jones collection.

The bank operates as follows: The three figures are moved from the position shown, on an axis under the Clown so that they are in the reverse position. The coin is then inserted between the figure of the Harlequin and the Clown. A lever on the right is pressed and the figures automatically reverse themselves causing the figure of Columbine to spin and the coin is automatically deposited in the bank. The entire action is quite realistic and intriguing and the bank is painted in bright attractive colors of red, yellow, silver and white. So far there are six of these banks known to be in private collections.


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