Hold the Fort Bank
The stirring battle cry "Hold The Fort" is the appropriate name of the mechanical bank chosen as No. 53 in our numerical classification. This is another of the cannon shooting into the fort type of bank, however, the action is quite realistic in that the cannon actually shoots small steel pellets at the target.
The Hold The Fort Bank was patented by Samuel Clark of Brooklyn, N.Y., on November 20, 1877. The bank shown in the picture closely follows the patent diagrams. Another type was brought out at a later date and this is explained further on in the article. The actual manufacturer of the bank is as yet not known. However, we have other information as to when it was sold and so on. This information appears in the form of an advertisement in the American Athletic Journal for the Winter of 1877. The bank is pictured in the ad and it is exactly the same as the one shown here. In quoting from this advertisement the exact operation of the bank is explained. The entire ad is as follows:
"Hold The Fort"
"Pull the rod, to which the string is attached, as far back as to allow the trigger on top of the cannon to drop in its place. If a percussion wafer is used, put it in the opening provided for it, using care in placing it so that the hammer will strike it. Put the ball in the cannon and it is ready to discharge. Place the coin on the rest behind the rear of the target; press the trigger and the cap will explode, and at the same time the ball will strike the coin and send it in the Bank. The ball generally follows the coin into the Bank and comes out of the perforated bottom. Be careful to procure perfectly round bullets to insure a perfect shot.
"The Bank is made of iron and painted fancy. Size 7¼x4 inches.
Further information about Hold The Fort is also contained in this same issue of the American Athletic Journal. Directly beneath the ad for the Hold The Fort Bank appears the Hold The Fort ink stand. This is of somewhat different appearance having rougher stone-like effect around the sides. There are also seven round holes on each side instead of five as in the bank. The name "Hold The Fort" appears along the bottom edge of one of the sides. The same casting that was used to make the ink well in 1877 was adapted to make the Hold The Fort Bank at a later date. This explains why there are two different types of the Hold The Fort Bank.
Another difference in the two banks is the coin trap arrangement. In the earlier model a removable door is located in the end of the bank. This is at the end where the cannon is located. On the later model there is a removable coin trap in the base of the bank.
The bank shown is in fine condition and original except for the flag. The writer has never seen an original flag. Apparently, judging by the old advertising picture, the flag furnished with the bank was an American flag with the wording Hold The Fort inscribed thereon.
The bank is nicely painted in an overall gray with blue edging at the top and bottom. The target housing and other outlinings of the bank are done in red. The cannon is painted blue.
The Hold The Fort Bank is a very interesting addition to a collection. It is not easy to find and particularly so in good condition. Any mechanical bank collector should be pleased if he is fortunate enough to obtain either of the two types that were made.