The Toy Bank Maker
One of the very important aspects in the collecting of mechanical banks is the obtaining of factual background information as to their origin, design and manufacture. A very rare item in connection with the background of mechanical banks has just come into the writers possession through the good help of Mr. C.E.H. Whitlock of New Haven, Connecticut.
This article is of great interest and importance as it describes one of the methods used in making original patterns and it also brings to light the name of a man who apparently had some degree of importance, along with Charles Bailey, in being a good model and pattern maker of various banks. The complete article quoted below appears in the 89th Year of Phinneys Calendar Or Western Almanac For The Year Of Our Lord 1886 by Lester Wheeler Heathcote School and distributed and published by Wm. T. Smith, Bookseller & Stationer, Utica, New York. The article appears in its entirety as follows:
"The Toy Bank Maker"
The Creedmore bank was the first I made, said the bank maker on Saturday. That was followed by the kicking mule, the bull dog and others. I am now at work upon a more complicated toy bank, the first bronze casting has just come in. We are now chasing it and filing down all the rough edges, and making all the joints work easily. I first of all make a solid model of the figure in specially prepared wax. From this I take a plaster of paris mold in two halves. Then I make two hollow models of the figure in wax from these molds. The next thing is to separate from the complete models the parts which are intended to be movable. Before me I have the left fore-arm and hand of a monkey, holding up a piece of cocoanut shell, the thumb of the right hand, the lower jaw, the eyes and the tail, which, when the toy is complete, will act in conjunction with a spring on the inside. These parts being removed, I have to make a fresh model in wax of every part with an end or joint attached to them. They are then sent to the brass foundry to be cast in bronze. The whole figure has to be made complete and working in wax before it goes to the foundry. When they come back some of the pieces are very rough and need a great deal of filing and chasing to make them fit and move easily. You see, the model in bronze that I make is the foundation from which all the banks are eventually to be made, and unless my model works perfectly there will be no end of complaints when it goes eventually to the iron foundry, where the marketable toys are turned out. There are twenty pieces in this bank. A coin is placed between the thumb and fingers of a monkeys right hand. The thumb, you see, is kept in place by a spring strong enough to hold a coin the weight of half a dollar. When the tail is depressed the left hand raises the upper half of the cocoanut, the lower jaw falls down, the eyes go up, the right thumb is drawn back and releases the coin, which falls through a slit in the cocoanut into the mouth of the monkey and the bank.
A point of interest is the fact that James H. Bowen of Philadelphia patented all of the banks mentioned in the above article, the Creedmore, Kicking Mule, the Bull Dog, and the Monkey Bank as described. Evidently Page made the models and patterns of the banks for Bowen and these patterns were in turn sent to Stevens for the actual manufacture. Page undoubtedly made many other models and patterns in Philadelphia and probably for other than Bowen, possibly Kyser & Rex and others.
It might be well to point out that not all bank models were made by John Page, of course, as there were many other model makers. It also might be mentioned that many of the original models of banks were first carved in wood and from these wooden models, lead, bronze or brass patterns were then cast and then the master patterns were made from these.
It is very difficult to find factual background pertaining to the manufacturers or designers of the mechanical banks. Of course old catalogs and patent papers are of great value. To the best of the writers knowledge the above article is the first of its type that has turned up wherein an article was written about a particular bank model maker.