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Picture Gallery Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - March, 1958

58-03.JPG (36362 bytes)

A mechanical bank with a unique educational theme and a very appropriate name is our choice as No. 62 in the numerical classification of mechanical banks. This bank, the Picture Gallery Bank, is the only known mechanical bank that is actually instructive and could be used to teach not only the alphabet, but also how to count. In addition there is an object pictured to illustrate each letter of the alphabet and each object has the respective name shown. These names in all cases are short and thus could be used to teach a child to spell.

The Picture Gallery Bank was manufactured by the Shepard Hardware Company of Buffalo, N.Y., in the period of 1885. The actual designer and patentee is not known, however, it is very likely that C.G. Shepard and P. Adams were responsible. Both these men took out the patent covering the Punch & Judy Bank in July of 1884. The Picture Gallery is very similar to Punch & Judy insofar as the operation of the figure is concerned and the general appearance and makeup of the bank compartment section. It is not believed that J. & E. Stevens Company, after taking over the line of Shepard Hardware mechanical banks, ever made any of the Picture Gallery Banks. In most cases Stevens changed the castings in the base so that their conventional type of round coin trap could be used instead of the rectangular locking trap as used by Shepard. To the best of the writer’s knowledge no Picture Gallery Banks have ever been found with other than the Shepard type of locking trap.

The bank shown is in fine original condition and was obtained by the writer some years ago in New England. The paint is in unusually good condition for this particular bank and is quite decorative. The round face of the bank is bright red with an outer edging in green. The lettering and decoration is painted gold. The section containing the numbers, alphabet, and so on is green and the numbers, the letters, and the objects are painted gold. The face of the man is painted in natural color and he has a blue coat, white shirt, and a red hat.

The levers to operate the bank are in the back. There are two levers, one to operate the figure and the other to operate the alphabet mechanism. To operate the saving feature a coin is placed in the outstretched hand of the figure. On pulling the proper lever the figure turns and lowers his hand depositing the coin in the provided slot. To operate the instructive mechanism the other lever is pressed and a letter of the alphabet appears in the left window. The number of this letter appears in the upper center window and an object with the name shown appears in the right hand window. In each case the name of the object begins with whatever letter of the alphabet is shown. As example, in the picture when the letter ‘L’ is shown the number is ‘12’, and the word is ‘lock’ with a lock pictured. In this case the lock shown is the same as that used in the base of the bank itself. The instructive part of the bank has a mechanism that operates on a ratchet principle. This is independent of the savings mechanism and is so designed to enable the instructive feature to be used at any time without the necessity of a coin being deposited.

The Picture Gallery Bank is a very desirable mechanical bank with its completely different educational theme. It is a very showy large bank and difficult to find in good original condition with good paint.


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