A mechanical bank with a completely unknown background is our choice as No. 60 in the numerical classification of the mechanical banks. This bank is the U.S. Bank and, to the best of the writers knowledge, nothing is known as to the designer of the bank, the possible patentee, the manufacturer, or the actual date or period in which it was made. The writer knows of no catalogs that picture or describe the bank and so far no patent papers have been found. There are no markings on the bank whatsoever and unfortunately no details of the construction, paint, or operation are indicative of any particular concern or individual who made mechanical banks.
The U.S. Bank pictured was obtained by the writer from the collection of the late Dr. Arthur E. Corby. It is in excellent all around condition and an exceptionally fine specimen. The bank is a very well made piece with unusually decorative castings, and quite ornate and Victorian. It is a very large and imposing bank and quite a number of parts are involved in the assembly and makeup of the fine building it represents. It is reasonable to assume that the bank was made in the 1885 to 1890 period. This can be ascertained by the appearance of the building and the uniform worn by the policeman.
The bank was obviously made by the same concern that manufactured the New Bank. This is of no help, however, as no more is known about the New Bank than the bank under discussion. The New Bank is a smaller but ornate type building and the same type policeman was used as a guard in the entrance way.
The operation of the U.S. Bank is rather simple. A coin slot is located over the head of the policeman, however, this is blocked from the inside so that no coins may be inserted until the mechanism is operated. The porcelain knob extending up from the roof is the operating lever, and when this is depressed a slot inside the bank lines up with the coin slot so that it is usable for the admittance of coins. At the same time the face of a dog appears in the round section of the right hand window and the face of a colored boy appears in the round section of the left hand window. Upon releasing the lever the faces disappear and the coin slot is again blocked against usage. The bank is pictured with the porcelain knob held in the depressed position so that the faces of the boy and dog can be seen.
The bank is painted in a very decorative way with bright colors. The front of the building is green with the various windows outlined in red and white, and the doorway is red. The lettering U.S. is painted red with white stripes. The sides of the building are a very dark blue with the diamond grated windows painted green with red and white outlining. The cup-shaped part on top of the building is dark blue, the dome below this is red, and the oval section below this is green. The two square sections of roofing are dark blue with the saw-toothed edgings painted green. The keystone-shaped sections on the roof are red and the four small pinnacles are also red. The saw-toothed edge of the base is green and the inner part of this section is dark blue. The policeman is gold and he is made from a brass stamping.
It might be well to mention that quite often the U.S. Bank and the United States Bank are confused with one another. The U.S. Bank is entirely different and in all cases of known existing specimens the initials U.S. appear as in the picture with the word Bank underneath. The United States Bank, however, is known to exist both with and without the name. Ofttimes, however, the U.S. Bank has been called the United States Bank and this, of course, adds to the confusion, as well as being incorrect.
The U.S. Bank is the largest of the house or building group of mechanical banks and, as a matter of fact, it is one of the largest of all the mechanical banks. It is not an easy bank to obtain and it makes a very imposing, impressive addition to a collection.