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THE SPINNING WHEEL for February 1958,  page 34 & 35 (text transcribed below)


 
Our Readers' Research . . .
Shoot That Hat Bank

 

       One of the deepest joys a collector can know comes at that moment when, after he has studied his latest find, traced its history, located its patent papers, and put it in proper condition, he can say with assurance, "This is it the true and complete story." If he can add "and I helped to write it," his cup runneth over.
     To arrive at a definitive conclusion is often simple, for others have already laid the ground work, and his part is merely a checking of references. But occasionally he encounters something "entirely different" in his category of collecting and the spade work and fun that goes into the digging is all his. Sometimes a conclusion is never quite reached, the hope of discovery always before him. But when, through his own efforts, the story is completed, he knows that unique and altruistic satisfaction of having contributed to the sum total of assembled knowledge.
     This is the story of the Shoot That Hat Bank and the spade work of Mr. Lawrence A. Johnson of Syracuse, New York, who found the answers.
     "In September 1950," writes Mr. Johnson, "I, was asked to show my collection of mechanical banks at the Onondaga County Antiques Fair in the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts. A few days after the exhibit, I received a note from Gene Simpson of Canandaigua, suggesting that I drive out to look at a bank he had for sale. Though it was cracked and a piece was apparently missing, it was a bank I'd never seen before and I bought it. Gene, who sold veterinary supplies to farmers and stockmen, had once been in the antiques business on the side, picking up odds and ends from the farms as he traveled through the country. The bank, he said, had come from Miss Florence Kenyon, over near Richfield Springs.
     "Because I could find no information about this Shoot That Hat Bank in usual references, I showed it to two kind and helpful friends, both authorities on mechanical banks, William F. Ferguson of New Rochelle, New York, and Mr. Frank L. Ball of Cambridge, Massachusetts. They both had the same rather exciting thought about the bank, but urged me to consult Mr. Louis H. Hertz of Scarsdale, New York, the author of "Mechanical Toy Banks" for his added opinion. The three agreed that the bank was a real find. Although patent papers for it were part of mechanical bank lore, this was the first proof any of them had had that the Shoot That Hat Bank had actually been made and sold.
     "My next thought was to put the bank in condition, and I called on Miss Kenyon, the original owner, in hopes that she might still have the missing part, which patent papers showed to be a little hydrant. She was living on the same farm where she had been born seventy-six years before. The bank, she told me, had been a gift to her brother Marshall on his seventh birthday in 1885 from an aunt in Cayuga County. It had probably been purchased in either Utica or Syracuse. As for the missing hydrant, while she was sure "it must be around the house somewhere we used it for years to prop up the window when we wanted it open just a little way," it was not to be found.
      I turned then to another good friend, retired Albert Wagstaff of Frankfort, N. Y., former head of International Heaters of Utica, who had learned his trade of pattern maker in his native England. Using the measurements from the patent papers, he was able to mold the missing hydrant exactly and affix it in place. However, he agreed with Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Ball that the cracked plate should not be welded. To convince me, he tested the iron in the bank and found it definitely could not stand the heat necessary for welding it would only melt and run like water. Instead, he cut a V-groove on the bottom of the cracked plate and ran a little solder into the groove. Upon this he soldered a thin piece over the crack.
     Mr. Johnson adds that the story of the Shoot That Hat Bank is an example of the swiftness with which everyday household activities can disappear from scene and memory. It is also an example of the rewarding adventures in discovery that await the inquiring collector and add zest and impetus to further collecting.

 

   
 (text under images)
Design shown on Patent #13,401 for Shoot That Hat Bank, issued to Charles F. Richel, Bridgeport, Conn., Nov. 7, 1882, specifying "a bootblack sitting on his box in front of a street-hydrant, with outstretched hands holding a brush"; coin placed between hands and hydrant slips between knees into bank when another boy, standing behind, swings the huge hat over his head; admits no coin larger than a nickel; top of hat rises as it goes over head.
 
Though patent papers had long been known to mechanical bank enthusiasts, this is the Shoot That Hat Bank that proved it had actually been made and sold; it is insured, in Mr. Johnson's collection, for $1500. 


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