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Hunts Rare Toy Banks
As a Hobby


AN IMPRESSIVE group of the now-scarce, cast-iron mechanical banks of the late1800's is owned and highly prized by Wesley W. Yando of 82 Glenwood Avenue, Pawtucket.

        In three years Mr. Yando has acquired 50 of the banks. Each is in excellent working order and each has its original paint. The number hit the half-hundred mark this month.
        Without the slightest intention of starting a collection Mr. Yando bought his first bank at an auction in Southboro, Mass. It was to be a gift to his very young granddaughter. He thought she would be amused at the little dog hopping through a hoop when fed a penny.
        But Grandfather did not reckon on the appeal the bank was to have for himself. Delighted at its performance, he fed it penny after penny, then took it apart to see what made it tick. Very careful not to mar the finish, already bearing old scars, he reassembled the parts and placed it on a shelf.
        Soon another bank was bought to join the first. Although mechanical banks are not easy to track down nowadays, seven were picked up the first year. Last year netted 27 but by then a real hunt was on. And Mr. Yando began to swap his duplicate banks for models he didn't have.

        Growing Scarce
        Although they were fairly common at one time mechanical banks in perfect condition have become scarce for several reasons. Rough usage by children made junk of many of them. Almost every bank has one vulnerable Part, such as a raised hand, which is almost certain to be damaged by a fall or sharp blow. Repaired or repainted banks are scorned by serious collectors.
        A great many banks have been broken in the mail because one collector shipping a choice piece to another has failed to pad it properly for the trip.
        Some probably are still packed away in attics and forgotten. A trip to Connecticut in the hope of buying an antique maple bed rewarded Mr. Yando with a bank that was not on his list. Guided into a dusty shed to examine furniture, his eye lighted On a long-neglected "Frog, Old Man and Goat" in a corner.
        When soot was wiped away and the mechanism tested, another good bank was brought out into the open.
        Most Have Names
        Most banks have titles and well-informed collectors  always refer to then by name. Sometimes the name is quite descriptive of the appearance or action. Others  have names that make one wonder why they are so called.
        Acknowledged by many experts to be the first of the American-made mechanical banks is "Hall's Excelsior." It is a miniature bank building. A penny placed on a shelf is apparently pulled in as a monkey suddenly puts in an appearance on the roof.
        Another known as "Creed-moor" took its name from an old New York State Rifle Range, according to Mr. Yando's record book. It is of the artillery type-- the firing" of a rifle is timed with the disappearance of the coin.
        The title "Calamity" gives no hint of what the bank might be like although a second name "Football" sometimes used is more informative. Even then one wonders what is so calamitous. However, the fast action of three players changing positions is so fascinating that plenty of coins are dropped in the slot by bystanders eager to see a repeat performance.

        Keeps Pennies Handy
        For interested observers and everyone who sees one of these banks has an irresistible urge to test it Mr. Yando keeps a box of pennies nearby. But the treasury grows regardless. Men usually dig down in their pockets and pick out pennies from their small change. Women reach for their purses.
        Children however are not so conscientious in paying for the amusement. When allowed they dip freely in the penny box. Their tastes in mechanical banks are apt to run along different lines from those of adults. Grownups seem to prefer banks with the most complicated action. A child generally concentrates on a single figure or a clear-cut grouping after trying out the others.
        Strange as it may seem, the favorite of the little girl for whom the first bank was bought is "Tammany" which depicts a greedy pot-bellied politician. Not sensing the implications in this figure, which swallows up every penny that comes near it, she calls it the "Thank You Bank" because the head nods each time the figure takes a coin.
Regarding the banks as just so many toys, she is too young yet to realize they make up a collection which grows more valuable at time goes on. Neither does she sense it is being built up as part of her inheritance.


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