Mechanical banks for sometime now have continued steadily to increase in their popularity as a collectors item. It is quite natural that along with this continued increased popularity, fakes, reproductions or recasts, numbered replicas and the like would appear on the market in increasing quantities.
These fakes, reproductions, and the like have caused more and more concern among the collectors of mechanical banks and a great degree of concern as to the overall effect on the hobby itself.
First, why would an individual reproduce, recast, or fake a mechanical bank. The answer is obvious, to sell to collectors and dealers for a profit to himself. Its rather difficult to understand just why any person would go to all the trouble involved, but apparently some individuals will do so even though the market for the item is limited and couldnt be very profitable.
A definite controlling factor is the fact that the rarer banks are usually in the hands of bona fide collectors and therefore its rather difficult for any unscrupulous individual to obtain one of these to make a recast. Up to now the recast banks have been of only the common variety such as the Jolly Nigger. Its rather easy to recognize the Jolly Nigger recast or any of the other recast banks even if the collector or dealer has had limited experience in collecting or buying and selling them.
Along with the fake and recast banks there has also been offered numbered reproductions of certain banks. Just what value these have is difficult to understand. Certainly no collector is fooling anyone but himself if he knowingly has a reproduction item in his collection, and it can never take the place of the original.
There was a time some years ago where a collector who didnt have the Clown, Harlequin and Columbine Bank came up with the idea of recasting twelve of these banks so that a select group could obtain a replica for their respective collections. Needless to say, the idea fell through as no collector who was fortunate enough to have the Harlequin in his collection wanted any part of the scheme. There was absolutely nothing to be gained by the idea, and this follows through with any recast or reproduced mechanical bank.
There is an angle that is unique to mechanical bank collecting that should be considered. This concerns repair service. In some cases some of the repairers feel it is necessary to recast entire banks to enable them to have all different parts of individual specimens. This has its good and bad points. There have been cases almost to the extreme of starting with an original coin trap and building a bank around it! In any event, the Ferris Wheel and Captain Kidd are two examples of so-called mechanical banks that have up to now never been found as original mechanical banks. The ones that are around have all been altered and made mechanical.
There is no intent to cast reflection on the legitimate repair service offered to fix mechanical banks for those individuals who are unable to do so themselves. However, here again its up to each person and his own good judgement. It bears repeating that when we try to fool others we usually only fool ourselves.
As a final word, bear in mind that any recast mechanical bank can be recognized as such after some experience in handling or collecting original specimens. It is necessary to use an original bank as a pattern and the recast is recognizable as such. New paint and new paint that has been antiqued is not difficult to distinguish from old paint and natural wear. Mint condition original specimens can be recognized for what they are as against recast items with new paint offered as originals.
Mechanical banks over a period of years have established a strong foot-hold in the collecting field and all indications are that this will remain so, despite attempts to pass off recast items.