Roller Skating Bank
Mechanical banks, while fascinating from a number of angles, are certainly intriguing in the wide subject matter they cover and represent. Take for example, the variety of subjects we have already covered in the first ten banks: the Civil War period as represented by the Freedman; an Italian and English fantasy in the Clown Harlequin and Columbine; a merry-go-round at the park; a Japanese magician; a shoot-the-chutes; a goat on a beer barrel; a girl skipping rope; a labor-capitalist problem satirized; a hunter shooting a bird; and finally a giant.
Now we move into the pleasant thoughts surrounding the fun of roller skating as we rate the eleventh bank, namely, the Roller Skating Bank, with its appealing subject, nice action, and rarity.
Here again, as is often the case with the rarer banks, we are confronted with the problem of having practically no factual background knowledge. There are no markings or dates on the bank and apparently no patent papers exist. There is one definite similarity between this bank, the Confectionery Bank, the Chimpanzee Bank, and the Merry-Go-Round Bank, and that is the same clover leaf type perforations are cast in the base of the bank. Since we know the Confectionery and Chimpanzee were both made by Kyser and Rex in Philadelphia, its reasonable to assume they also manufactured the Roller Skating Bank, probably in the period of the 1880s. Further, its very likely that it was designed by R.M. Hunter.
The bank pictured is one of the few obtained by the writer first hand in a home. It was in the possession of a family who live in a small town in Ohio. They had a general interest in antiques and their home was nicely furnished with them. Some years ago they found the bank in an old blacksmith shop and persuaded the smithy to part with it. They in turn used it to entertain children who came to visit them, and if memory serves correctly, specifically one grandchild. The children were allowed to operate the bank with coins but not play with it and this contributed to its nice condition.
The bank operates as follows: First, the figures of the boy and girl are moved into the position shown in the picture, then a coin is placed in the slot located in the top of the skate rack to the rear of the bank. When the button between the two skaters is pressed they skate in half circles to the boy holding a wreath in his hands. He turns and presents this to the girl and at the same time the coin drops into the bank automatically.
The bank is painted in bright colors, the base is gray with red trim and the figures are done in a natural way. It is entirely original with no repairs and the paint is in excellent condition.
It is interesting to note that the designer of this bank very carefully put roller skates on the boy and girl skaters, but the two prone figures who apparently are supposed to have just fallen have no skates on at all. This is a curious oversight when you consider the degree of meticulous detail used by the majority of the bank designers.