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Letter from Wm. F. Ferguson — November 27, 1953

Wm. F. Ferguson, 1953 Presto Bank letter drawing

I’m not starting to write my "Bank letter" again – just a note to a few of my old collector friends, whom I thought would like to know about the latest find.

Mr. Wm. Roup of Pottstown, Pa, a new collector, was the lucky one, in acquiring last summer a brand new "Presto Savings Bank" with label – instructions still on as well as a label on bottom – "Clark Hardware Co. Detroit, Mich". This is the first and only specimen found. A rarity and very interesting. Pat 1884 # 296,689

A dealer who picks up banks for Roup offered him two banks, one (fairly common) and the other (Presto) which the dealer was not so sure of. Said the dealer, "Bill you have to take both (for $42.) for I don’t want to get stuck with that Presto bank." Mr. R. of course recognized it as Meyer #200 and a rare one. Quite a value book, Uncle John!! Soon I’ll have the pleasure of seeing this bank – but Mr. R. will not sell it.

According to the patent paper there are two compartments, A & B, with a glass partition between. In A you have already placed a quarter in a certain position, and it stays there. This compartment is dark, a slide on the top shuts out the light. Drop a nickel in slot at end, and looking through the opening (opposite) you see the nickel through the glass partition, since compartment is open to light. Moving lever makes the slide shift over compartment B, shutting off the light in B, and at same time allowing light to come into comp. A.

The glass partition, being dark behind it, acts as a mirror which reflects the quarter into your vision. If lever is moved slowly the nickel seems to fade slowly away and in same spot the quarter appears. As lever is released, the nickel then drops down, the light shifts, and you see nothing.

I am sure you all know of the death of our best friend, Ferd Wieder, in Aug. Poor fellow, he sure would have been interested in this bank. It was about a year before he died that he bought the only Darkey Football Player that ever showed up. I received a nice letter from Mrs. Weider a while back, but as I expected, she made no mention of Ferd’s banks.


Wm. Ferguson

SUMMER: (APR. 15 TO OCT. 30)

                                                                                        Dec 22 1953

Dear Frank:

About your J & E S & Co (J & E Stevens Co) Cromwell pistol. Its one of the old pea shooters we used to hear tell about. You make a brass cup 1/2" across, 5/8" high. Drill a hole in bottom and insert the end of striker, then a tiny washer and rivet end of striker, then solder outside of hole, so cup don’t slide back. It will throw the pea, and at same time fire a cap, (in the place where you thought the cap should go. I think this is one of my best odd cap shooters. I have some other odd ones you should see. Wish you could come to see all the stuff I have here. I believe the top pistol is one of the best, although the camera, snap shot cap shooter I have is the only one I’ve heard of.

The mechanical cap shooters are as scarce as hen’s teeth. While present "list" prices of banks are fantastic, I believe the mechanical pistols are way underrated. Just received a booklet of prices of banks from J. Kenny, Mineola, with a letter "Send me a $, or return book" I’ll keep it, for my collection of funnies. Maybe you will get one to look over. If not, I’ll send you mine – just so you can see how crazy it is.

Your new card is fine. By the way, should you ever want to use any of my cuts of banks (that were in my illustrated folder several years back) just let me know. You must have one of my folders.

A while back I wrote a letter about the newly discovered Presto bank, made copies to send to a few, and was going to make some more, but never got around to it. Look it over and return when you next write.

Also I am enclosing two yellow sheets, listing patent numbers of a lot of pistols. Several years ago I copied this off from information Weider sent me, and was going to send for the patent papers, but forgot all about it, and just recently discovered the list. (Since I wrote you) You say you are going to send for patent papers. I have forgotten just how to address the request, etc. Last time I wrote for such things, price was 25c each. In the old days I had considerable trouble getting what I wanted. Always sending back and had to order over, etc, so I gave it up. Suppose you let me know how you make out. Weider wanted me to keep this list a secret, that is, not to let every dealer in the land know about them, so may as well keep it mum.

But now poor Ferd is gone. He would have come along all right, if he hadn’t started in too hard again, I believe. He was a swell fellow, and as you say, he probably knew more about the cap pistol line, than anyone. He knew all the answers on banks, too.

I never bothered much with the more modern cap pistols, no interest in them. Nor many of the common old ones. It was the animated, and unusuals I was after.

Yes, your business must be growing. By you card you sure handle a full line. About the bell ringing toys, - pull toys – did I send you some time back, several sheets of photostatic copies of such items. Seems so I made up a bunch of such things and sent them out.

Also made some copies of hot air toys (there’s one branch you haven’t advertised.) If only you had stocked up on a bunch of this stuff years ago, you could make a mint of money now. I remember them when I was a kid. Dad had some in the store, but in all my collecting since 1934, I haven’t seen one. Think you know what I am talking about. These things were mostly cardboard and wires. Fastened on to the stove pipe, and heat rising from the stove, made the windmill turn, which in turn made the figures move. Fellow sawing wood, etc., etc.

Miller says banks have gone up recently, and he can’t get enough to sell. Sure beats all. Well, I suppose anything is worth what you can get for it. But many collectors nowadays are plain suckers. Some things offered are just junk.

Glad you ear trouble is cleared up. I didn’t know you were having trouble. Well, in age you are only four months ahead of me. If I hadn’t had that heart attack I would still be going strong, but I am not so bad. Just have to take it easy, on a diet, and have five rest periods a day – real lay-down-and-go-sleep rests. I can drive, but only short distances.

Let me have the yellow sheets back, too, when you are through with them. I should make up a list for you, but I have so much writing to do. I’m working on two histories, by the way. What next?

Hope you have a good Christmas, too. I’ll just take it easy, and, as usual keep trying to catch up on correspondence, etc.



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