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United States Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - August, 1956

56-08.JPG (10965 bytes)The actual form of a safe is certainly appropriate as a savings bank and as we reach No. 47 in our numerical classification, The United States Bank, we have an accurate representation of a safe. There are only three known mechanical banks in the shape of a safe and the other two are the Watch Dog Safe and the Fortune Teller Savings Bank. The United States Bank is considerably rarer than either of the other two in the group, and it also has better action.

The United States Bank was patented August 27, 1880. This date appears in gold stencil on the rear bottom edge of the bank itself. To the best of the writer’s knowledge, however, no patent papers have been found so far that cover this bank so the actual designer is not known. It is possible that the patent papers covering this bank are in some group or class number so far unexplored and further future research may bring them to light. As to the manufacturer, there are certain characteristics that are indicative of the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. It is fairly reasonable to assume that they made the bank.

The bank shown was obtained by the writer from the extensive collection of the late Dr. Arthur E. Corby. It is in fine condition and painted an overall green with black outlining on the door, the front, the back, both sides, and the top. The inside of the top as well as the recess in the top are painted white. The name and the patent date are in gold stencil and the bead work on the door is in gold. The hinges, the coin slots, and other details are also highlighted in gold. The picture of the little girl is very colorful and appropriate to the time of the bank’s manufacture.

The bank as pictured is shown after the action has taken place. To operate the bank the top is depressed by hand and it clicks into place. When this is done the bank looks like an ordinary safe and there is no evidence of any mechanical action. A coin inserted into either of the two slots causes the top to spring open as shown exposing the picture. The weight of the coin causes the action to take place by coming into contact with a spring action lever inside the bank. It’s interesting to note that this particular specimen of the bank has two coin slots, one in the door and another in the top front edge. Each work equally well. The other examples of this bank that the writer has seen only have the single coin slot in the door. Coins are removed from the bank by unlocking the door by means of a key.

The United States Bank is a scarce item, and difficult for the collector to add to his collection. It may be that this bank is unintentionally passed up by dealers as being an ordinary safe type of bank or still bank. This could possibly be a contributing factor to its scarcity. It might be well to also mention that the writer knows of three other specimens of this bank that do not have the stenciled name in gold on the door. This could be due to several reasons, such as not naming the bank when it was first made or leaving the name off at a later date for some necessary reason. In either case, however, with or without the name, it is a challenge to the mechanical bank collector to add to his collection. There are five or possibly six examples of the United States Bank known to exist in private collections.


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