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Old Penny Banks

MECHANICAL by John D. Meyer
STILLS by Larry Freeman

The primary object in writing this Hand Book of Old Penny Banks is an effort to classify the banks and number them so that each bank will be designated, and in the future will be recognized, each one by its own number. As by example: No. 1 — The Acrobats; No. 99 — Two Frogs; No. 203 — Punch and Judy; No. 245 — Zoo Bank, etc. I feel that such an arrangement will be helpful to the present day collectors and those who may follow me. In giving a description of each known bank and its operation along with its patent number and date, when possible, I have waded through piles of magazine articles, old catalogues, photographs and everything pertaining to Old Penny Banks that I could lay my hands on. I have not gone into details in discussing varieties, feeling that the description of one bank of a kind covers the field pretty fairly.

With respect to the registering banks, I have finally decided that they had better be regarded in a class by themselves and not classified as truly mechanical banks, although, because of the many moving parts in some of them there may be some ground for mechanical classification.

After each letter alphabetically, you will note I have left approximately two spaces for the recording of any bank which may turn up, and then may be listed under the last number of that letter. That is, if another bank beginning with the letter A should turn up it would be listed as number 8 Aa, or if two should be discovered it would be 8 Ab, or if it should begin with the letter M it would be 172 Ma and the second one 172 Mb, and so on.

There are 242 banks illustrated, each one numbered to correspond with the numbered description of that bank so that by referring to the number of the illustration and the like number of the description the reader may visualize what that bank is like.

The author has been fortunate enough to have seen the collections of Chrysler, Chipman, Corby, Downes, Emerine, Ferguson, Gerkin, Griffith, Hegarty, Hull, Jones, Lederer, Meyer, Pease, Pendergast, Thayer, and Dearborn Village and therefore has seen virtually every one of the thus far discovered mechanical penny banks. To the owners of these collections and to those other collectors and dealers who have given me much help in my efforts, I express a deep sense of appreciation.

I have refrained from attempting to give gradings to the banks because I feel that were I to do it, it would only be my individual opinion which might rightly be very different from the opinion of those collectors who know more about certain banks than the author does. And as to range of price, well, I have paid too much for some and just enough for others. So I think I had better let the prices be controlled by the desire of the collector to obtain the bank.

I am including in this book a Bibliography of Penny Banks and trust the references may be helpful in obtaining information on the Hobby we enjoy.

A list of catalogues pertaining to penny banks is also included, through the courtesy of Mr. W. F. Ferguson.

Also is appended a list of collectors throughout the land which the author thought might help in establishing a better acquaintance among the fraternity. This list of course will vary from time to time, some will drop out, others will come in.

You may say, and in many cases I agree with you, that there are some banks here listed which are truly not mechanical and others only semi-mechanical and my only reason for including them is that all of the older collectors have from time to time included them in their collections and their lists, and now by tradition I feel that I should continue to include them.

My only excuse for writing this book is that for a number of years I have jotted down the descriptions of the banks I collected, adding whatever information I could gather and as this mateial grew into sizeable amount, many friends urged me to put it into book form — so here it is.

I wish to express my appreciation to the many collectors and dealers who have given me much help and especially do I mention Messrs. Corby, Emerine and Ferguson.

In conclusion I feel I would be remiss f I did not refer to those collectors who have passed on, and who when living did so much for the cause of Penny Bank Collecting and I trust the present and future collectors will never forget the names of Sherwood, Jacobs, Hull, Jones, and Chrysler.

Finally, I have had much pleasure and enjoyment in compiling this hand book and I trust you will derive some enjoyment and benefit from reading it.

John D. Meyer
Tyrone, Pa. 1952






(Descriptions, numerically and alphabetically arranged)











Did you ever go on a "wild goose" chase?

I wonder which one is your favorite bank.

Bankers should make good penny bank collectors.

Did you ever find a good bank in a box of junk at a country sale?

Most of the mechanical banks were made in the eighties and gay nineties.

Much information is obtained from old trade catalgues and advertisements.

A room shelved on its four sides and all filled with penny banks certainly is a sight to behold.

An article by you on some phase of penny banks would make good reading for the other collectors.

Thayer’s unique display of banks in the Seaman’s Savings Bank has attracted many visitors.

Did you ever stop to think of the child’s thoughts as he was putting his pennies into his bank?

It is refreshing and enjoyable to have a fellow collector visit you and exchange views and information.

Do we fully appreciate the dealer who calls us up when he finds a bank he thinks we might be interested in?

When you take a long trip on the train it is mighty nice to take along some reading matter on penny banks.

Did your wife ever complain that you spent so much for just an old bank when she wanted a new dress.

Old Penny Banks makes a very interesting subject for talk at Bankers’ meetings, Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions and other service clubs.

Do you keep a record of what each bank costs you and have you ever counted up your total investment in penny banks? Don’t.

Did you ever drive 60 or 75 miles out of your way on a trip about a very rare bank only to find it one of the most common ones?

When the day’s labors are over it is mighty relaxing to get at your Penny Bank Collection and play with it for an hour or two.

When you got your bank home and examined it did you exult in your find or did you feel like kicking yourself because you paid too much.

Mechanical Penny Banks are typical American and portray a period that has passed on and will never come back to our children or grandchildren.

You may remember the time when you found a bank in an antique shop but didn’t buy it right then but went back the next day for it and it was gone.

Emerine’s literature on our hobby has helped a lot to bring the subject to the attention of the public and has encouraged many collectors. He is the "old wheel horse" of Penny Bank collectors.

We all know where there is a good bank but we just can’t get it because the owner does not want to part with it because of the sentiment attached to it.

We certainly do miss Blair Hull’s research work on penny banks. His knowledge of patents and the mechanical construction of the banks was a great help to us all.

The original prices ranged from seventy-five cents to eighteen dollars per dozen wholesale, the average price being about eight dollars and a half.

Dr. Corby is a busy dentist but on occasion of the writer’s visit to his office, "bank talk" cheated several patients out of two hours of pleasure and enjoyment in the dentist chair.

I am sure you have never counted up the miles you have traveled or the hours you have spent in getting your collection together. But it’s lots of fun.

It is well for us to be on the lookout for fake banks and I presume we have all been caught, although the fake factory is not running full time as it did some years ago.

Why doesn’t some one get started on organizing an association of Penny Bank Collectors? I believe it would be as interesting as that Association whose pass word is: "Button, Button, who has the Button?"

Ferguson’s letters to the members of the fraternity are mighty helpful and inspiring. They do a lot of good. He knows banks and is most helpful in giving information. He is most unselfish and untiring in his efforts to help a fellow collector.

The principal foundries were Stevens at Cromwell, Conn.; Hubley Mfg. Co., Lancaster, Pa.; Reading Foundry Co., Reading, Pa.; Enterprise Mfg. Co.,Phila., Pa.; The Shepherd Co., Buffalo, N.Y.; Kenton Hardware Co., Kenton, Ohio; Grey Iron Casting Co., Columbia, Pa.

Every Collector should have a scrap book, and he will derive a lot of pleasure in building it up. I have a photograph of each one of my mechanical banks and refer to them often in checking up some phase of a bank.

We hope you will accept our efforts in numbering and classifying the banks as we have done, so that there may be some sort of standardization in our hobby and when we mention some number we will all now the bank we are talking or writing about.


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