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American Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - July, 1955

55-07.JPG (23057 bytes)

Mechanical banks which are objects such as a Camera, Locomotive, Pistol, or Sewing Machine form a very limited number of banks. As we reach No. 37 in our numerical classification we come to one of these banks, namely the American Bank or Sewing Machine.

The bank shown is from a privately owned collection in Maryland and was obtained from an antique dealer in that State. It is in fine original condition with no repairs and good paint. There are no patent dates, numbers, or any type of marks on the bank. Also, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, there are no patent papers or old catalogs that refer to the bank. So any clues to its designer or manufacturer are up to now not known. As a matter of fact it is very possible that the bank was not sold commercially as a toy savings device.

The writer in an effort to trace it through contacted Mr. Thomas H. Palmer, Director of Division of Corporate Organization and Registration, Department of Corporations and Taxation, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This was to find out about the American Sewing Machine Company with the possibility they put the bank on the market themselves. Not much could be learned, however. The Corporation, American Sewing Machine Company, was chartered April 18, 1854 under Chapter 330 of the Acts of 1854 and it was dissolved March 31, 1931 by Chapter 299 of the Acts of 1931. No other statistics were available due to the fact that the Corporation has been out of existence so long.

The setup of the bank, the design or the way it is made also offer no direct identity to any particular designer or manufacturer. So until such time as more information turns up it is the writer’s opinion that the bank has a direct connection with the American Sewing Machine Company itself and was very probably made as an advertising item.

The bank shown has an overall color of black except for the decorations. The raised lettered name "American" is painted in gold. The two fancy decorations are in red and green and the striping is done in gold.

The operation consists of turning the crank and in so doing the pulley revolves moving the needle up and down. Coins are dropped into the slot as shown but have no connection with the mechanism. This, of course, brings up the point that technically the bank is a semi-mechanical based on the generally accepted theory of what actually constitutes a mechanical bank. However, long standing tradition and the fact that it is a very interesting item as a bank has kept it in the mechanical group. The writer is not prone to change this. After all, the Camera Bank, for example, has no connection between the coin and the mechanism, and the Safety Locomotive is another borderline between mechanical and semi-mechanical. So, along with these two banks, the individual can form his own opinion as to the American Bank being mechanical or semi-mechanical.

To sum up, the American Bank is a scarce, rather difficult item to find and its unknown background and possible connection to the American Sewing Machine Company add to the desirability to have one in a collection.


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