GREAT GUNS, JANUARY 1953
Don't Save Pennies,
Save Penny Banks
Saving pennies may bring fame and
fortune to some, but Henry Miller of Mt. Vernon, New York has achieved these
goals by saving mechanical penny BANKS. Mr. Miller's work room is filled
with tiny iron banks showing people and scenes of the 1880s and 90s, which
ride, walk, shoot and buck or move in some way.
Drop a penny into one machine and a small statute of Atlas spins the
world which he holds on his shoulders. Another penny will make two horses
and their jockeys race around a circular track. There is even a mason who
raises and lowers his trowel and places a brick if rewarded with a single
At one time these banks were children's toys and
sold for less than $1 but today hobbyists often pay $25 to $300 depending on
the condition and the scarcity of the particular mechanism.
One of Mr. Miller's favorite banks is called "Bad Accident." When a
penny is placed in the lap of the man driving a mule cart, a child jumps
from behind a clump of bushes in front of the mule; the mule rears up,
upsetting the car and sending the coin sliding into the bank beneath the
Mr. Miller began this unusual business 18 years ago when he and his
wife were in an antique shop looking for old furniture. Prowling around he
found something which he thought was a child's toy but which turned out to
be a mechanical bank. Mr. Miller was fascinated and bought it for $10. When
Mr. Miller had accumulated about 20 banks and Mrs. Miller got tired of
dusting them he put an ad in an antique journal. The huge number of replies
started him on his enjoyable and profitable career.
Now retired from his job with the Soil Conservation Service, Department
of Agriculture, Mr. Miller has added old toy cap pistols to his collection
and has plans of expanding into the field of antique paper weights.