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A Rare Mechanical Bank Advertising Item
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - May, 1956

56-05.JPG (16006 bytes)Mechanical banks were made, of course, as a child’s toy savings device. Being a toy, as such, they had a very short life span. Any paper material such as old catalogs, pamphlets, or circulars that advertised mechanical banks seem to have had a similar type short life span.

It’s quite natural that old catalogs and circulars that have to do with mechanical banks would have a tremendous appeal to the bank collector, and particularly so as he becomes more advanced in his hobby. This type material not only establishes and adds prestige to certain specimens, it also furnishes a wealth of background and knowledge of our subject, mechanical banks.

The item herewith pictured is invaluable in many ways so far as the collector of mechanical banks is concerned. For one thing it pictures and describes the rarest, most desirable mechanical bank of them all, the Freedman’s Bank. For another, it shows that in the period of its sale and manufacture the term ‘mechanical’ was applied as a descriptive terminology to the bank. All of us interested in banks have often thought that the word ‘animated,’ for example, might be more appropriate as applied to the action banks. However, if ‘mechanical’ was good enough back in 1880 it’s good enough today.

Another point that makes this particular circular quite rare and desirable is that it was published by the manufacturer himself, Jerome B. Secor, and refers to Ives Blakeslee Company as being a selling agent for the bank. The descriptive part of the circular is of interest, of course, as well as the price the Freedman’s Bank was sold for at the time. $4.50 was a very high price for a toy to sell at in 1880, and particularly a toy savings bank.

This fine rare circular has come to light among the effects of the late Dr. Arthur E. Corby and is now in the writer’s collection through the courtesy of L.C. Hegarty. This circular was originally discovered by Lawrence B. Romaine of Middleboro, Mass., around the period of 1936. It was found among two barrels of paper material that originally came from Foxboro, Mass. It was through the efforts of Mr. Romaine in sorting this material that the circular was found and, of course, it has gained in importance over the ensuing years.


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