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Panorama Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - September, 1955

55-09.JPG (21633 bytes)

In the recent classification article on the Uncle Remus Bank it was noted that it partially approached a group of mechanical banks so far not covered in any of the articles. This group is the house-building group and as we classify the Panorama Bank as No. 39 in our numerical classification we have the true form of a house bank.

The house-building group of the mechanical banks include, along with the Panorama, such examples as the Magic Bank, Home Bank, Novelty Bank, New Bank, U.S. Bank, Cupola Bank, Halls Excelsior, Wireless, and a few others. While the U.S. Bank and Cupola Bank are somewhat rarer than the Panorama, it is generally conceded that the Panorama is the most desirable and interesting bank in the house-building group.

The name Panorama as applied to the bank is, strictly speaking, somewhat of a misnomer. A panorama is, of course, a view or picture unrolled before ones eyes, hence a complete view in every direction. The bank gives us a series of different pictures on a cylinder form and probably this was the basis of naming the bank Panorama. As a matter of fact the patent papers indicate a connection between the name and the fact that the pictures move into place, each replacing the one previously seen.

The bank was patented by J.D. Butler of Lancaster, Mass., assignor to G. Selchow of New York City and John H. Richter of Brooklyn, N.Y., March 7, 1876. It was manufactured by the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. The bank as manufactured varies somewhat from the original patent and sketch, however, the basic mechanism and operating principle are the same. In the papers a prism, a square, and a hexagon are used in connection with the pictures being displayed individually. A different picture, of course, to be on each flat surface. However, as actually manufactured, a cylinder was used and the pictures are on a curved surface.

The bank pictured was obtained some years ago in New England and is in fine original condition with excellent paint and no repairs. The roof is painted red and all windows are outlined in red. Front, back and sides of the house are painted a light blue-green, and the round chimneys are the same color. Other sections, such as the doorway, are outlined in dark brown. The pictures which appear behind the glass covered section are scenes in various colors. These groups of pictures vary and the same ones were not used with all Panorama Banks made.

The bank operates by inserting a coin in a slot located in the center of the back slope of the roof. Pushing the coin into the slot engages a lever that causes the cylinder to revolve and thus show each picture in sequence. Of course a coin must be used each time to bring a different picture into position. There are six pictures on the cylinder and these show children in various forms of play such as boating, fishing, and the like. Coins are removed by means of a screw-held sliding coin trap located in the bottom base.

The house-building type of mechanical bank offers an attractive group and the Panorama is an outstanding example. It is not an easy bank to find and its connection with an early moving series type of picture is of great interest.


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