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Calamity Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - November, 1958

58-11.JPG (19254 bytes)

As we reach No. 69 in our numerical classification of mechanical banks our choice is a bank that has two very desirable features which appeal to the collector of mechanical banks. This bank, the Calamity Bank, has, for one feature, a popular sporting theme and for another an outstanding mechanical action which is rather spectacular. The sporting theme is, of course, football and the clever mechanical action has to do with the ball carrier.

The Calamity Bank shown was obtained by the writer some years ago in Keene, N.H., and it is in fine all around condition. The bank was designed by James H. Bowen of Philadelphia, Pa., and patented by him August 29, 1905. It was manufactured by the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. The patent papers covering this bank are worthy of mention since they are of considerable interest. For one thing two sheets of drawings were necessary to cover the gear operating mechanism, the figure positions, and the spring arrangement. The written material outlining the patent covers over two full sheets and considerable detail is given so that realistic action of the figures is assured. It is of further interest to note that the bank as manufactured follows the patent outline practically to the letter. Mr. Bowen, while not as prolific as Charles F. Bailey, was most certainly one of the outstanding mechanical bank designers. He designed and patented the Girl Skipping Rope, and this is one of the finest of the mechanical banks. As a matter of fact the Girl Skipping Rope is about the most mechanical of all the mechanical banks and at the top in action and desirability. He also designed the very early and popular Creedmore Bank in 1877. This was the first of the shooting banks consisting of a figure shooting a gun at a tree. On a section of the base of this bank there appears the wording "Bowen Series" and apparently he had intended to continue with a series of different banks. None of his other known banks, however, have this wording on them. In any event, James Bowen certainly deserves recognition for the fine mechanical banks he so skillfully designed.

The Calamity Bank is painted in attractive colors. All three players have tan uniforms and hats. The two tacklers have red sleeves, red collars, and red socks. The ball carrier has blue sleeves, collar, and socks. The top part of the base is green with considerable outlining and decoration in gold. The words "A Calamity" is also in gold. The front section of the base which holds the coins has red sides outlined in gold.

To operate the bank the players are first placed in the position shown in the picture. A coin is then set in the provided coin slot where it remains until the action of the bank occurs. Upon pressing the operating lever the figures spring into action, each tackler swings around and in on the ball carrier. In turn the ball carrier moves back and tilts forward and all three figures come together so that their heads touch. Thus the ball carrier has been stopped in his tracks by the thorough tackling job of the two tacklers. As the action takes place the coin automatically drops into the base container of the bank. The figures are reset for action by moving the two tacklers into their outside positions. The ball carrier automatically assumes the position as shown in the picture. The figures are motivated by means of a very clever gear arrangement activated by brass springs under tension.

The Calamity bank with its desirable football sporting theme plus the attractive action make it an exceptionally good addition to any collection of mechanical banks.


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