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Darky Fisherman Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - January, 1960

60-01.JPG (9160 bytes)

It is always a real pleasure to report the existence of a heretofore unknown mechanical bank since it offers each and every collector in the field a new challenge and the possibility of a new addition to his own collection. A discovery of this kind seemingly throws the numerical classification out of order since we have reached No. 80 in the series articles and, of course, a very rare desirable mechanical bank such as the previously unknown "Darky Fisherman Bank" logically deserves a higher rating. It is necessary, however, to maintain some order and conformity in our series of articles. With this in mind the writer decided some time ago after due consideration that any mechanical bank under the above circumstances would be assigned a number at the time, subject to change at some future date. Therefore the Darky Fisherman Bank will be No. 80 in our numerical classification even though it actually should be higher up in the listing. A comparable situation occurred with the Time Is Money Bank (HOBBIES, May, 1959) and undoubtedly will occur again in the future.

The Darky Fisherman Bank is in the very fine collection of Mrs. Mary Gerken of Allison Park, Pa. Mrs. Gerken is an avid collector and has been interested in mechanical banks for a number of years. She enjoys her hobby thoroughly and has an excellent collection including some of the top rarities. Mrs. Gerken obtained the Darky Fisherman Bank from David Hollander at the recent Mechanical Bank Collectors Convention (HOBBIES, November, 1959). Mr. Hollander deserves due credit for his unusual find. He is one of the pioneers as a dealer in mechanical banks and in recent years handled the sale of the various banks in the well known Chrysler collection.

The bank is in fine condition with good original paint. Some object may have originally hung from the end of the fishing pole and if this is the case it is missing. According to Mr. Hollander the original owner claims that a fish hung from the pole and this seems logical enough. However, it is possible that some sort of an incongruous or comic type of object may have hung there. In the writer’s opinion Charles A. Bailey unquestionably made the bank. There are no markings, patent dates, or other means of identification on the bank, however, every part and piece shows Bailey’s meticulous workmanship. It is the writer’s further opinion that the bank was made during the period of 1880 to 1885 and that Bailey designed, produced, and manufactured it himself in his shop in Cobalt, Conn. The material and workmanship are the same as his Springing Cat (HOBBIES, September, 1952), Chinaman In Boat (HOBBIES, May, 1955), and Baby Elephant Bank Unlocks At X O’Clock (HOBBIES, June, 1956).

There is some wording on the bank and this is in raised letters across the base just to the front of the boy’s feet. The statement "Dis Pond Am De Boss Place To Fish" appears here. Flowers and foliage are also designed in this section around the boy’s feet, the lettering, and on up to the edge of the pond. The flowers are red and the entire base including the pond is silver with small frogs around the pond. The boy’s legs, arms, and face are black. He has large white eyes and a large red lipped mouth. His trousers are yellow with a blue patch on the right leg and a red patch on the left leg. There is a large red patch on the seat of his trousers. He has a blue jacket with a red shirt. His cap is sectioned on the top in red, blue and yellow, and the visor is black. The boy holds a wire fishing pole in his right hand and this pole has a loop on the end. The looped end rests in a slot in the pond and this slot runs part way into the coin section located at the end of the pond. The loop end of the pole thus passes through part of this coin section which is painted red.

To operate the bank a coin is placed on the aforementioned coin section. A lever located on the right elbow of the figure is then pressed, this causes the right arm to move upward raising the pole held in his hand. The looped end of the pole moves up through the slot in the pond and pushes the coin into the coin slot. As the pole continues to travel upward a lever inside the figure is accentuated and this causes the cap to tilt backward off the head of the colored boy. The pictures clearly illustrate this operation.

The Darky Fisherman Bank offers a real challenge to all mechanical bank collectors and is certainly a most interesting new find in a mechanical bank.


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