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Automatic Coin Savings Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - January, 1957

57-01.JPG (12855 bytes)A bank with a fortune telling motif is our choice to occupy the 52nd position in our classification articles. This bank is the Automatic Coin Savings Bank, also known as the Fortune Teller Building. Since there is a bank actually named the Fortune Teller Savings Bank it is felt that the Automatic Coin Savings Bank should be called by its proper name, particularly in view of the fact that this name appears on the bank itself and was used in old advertisements offering the bank for sale.

The Automatic Coin Savings Bank was made and sold during the period of the 1890’s. As a matter of fact in the November 1893 issue of the New Peterson Magazine there appears an advertisement offering the bank for sale. The bank is pictured in this ad. The ad itself is of interest and it reads as follows:

"Save Your Money. Send for an Automatic Coin Savings Bank, delivered express pre-paid for $1.25. One of the latest novelties for Holiday Presents. Each deposit changing the Motto. Its novelty will make it attractive in every Home, and induce liberal deposits, and the children will find their Bank a source of much entertainment as well as profit. Agents wanted. Automatic Coin Savings bank, 32 Hawley Street, Boston, Mass."

The bank shown was obtained by the writer from the collection of the late Dr. Arthur E. Corby. It is completely original and in fine condition with no repairs. This specimen has a bronze type finish. It was also made in a nickel plate finish.

To operate the bank a coin is dropped into the provided slot. This causes the wheel of fortune to turn one notch and the motto appears in the space shown in the picture. Each coin used turns the wheel one notch at a time. It does not spin.

The materials used in making the bank are of interest. The wheel of fortune is made of cardboard, wood, and tin. Tin strips are set into the wood framework of the wheel and arranged in such a way as to trap each coin, moving the wheel a notch, and then releasing the coin. The weight of the coin, of course, causes the wheel to turn. The fortunes are printed in black on the white cardboard face of the wheel. Colored cardboard in blue or red is fastened to the inside of the grillwork in front and in back of the building. This, of course, imparts some color to the bank, and the writer’s specimen is in red. The entire shell or frame of the building is cast iron.

There is a good deal of wording on the bank and this is as follows: On the slanted top of the bank over the coin slot appears ‘Drop A Coin.’ Opposite this ‘And I Will Tell Your Fortune.’ On the face of the building appears the name of the bank ‘Automatic Coin Savings Bank,’ and below this ‘National Savings’.

The Automatic Coin Savings Bank is a very interesting different type of mechanical bank. It is a difficult item to find and particularly so in good condition. There are six, possibly seven, of these banks known to exist in private collections.


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