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Bowing Man in Cupola Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - May, 1960

60-05.JPG (18269 bytes)Mechanical banks with unknown backgrounds are always a challenge to the sincerely interested collector. Such a bank is our choice as No. 84 in the numerical classification of the mechanical banks. This bank, the Bowing Man In Cupola, also has the distinction of being a new find in the field of mechanical bank collecting. Circumstances have indeed been unusual in the past few months when one considers the fact that this is the third new discovery in a mechanical bank in that time. The other two are the Darky Fisherman Bank (HOBBIES, January, 1960); and the Tommy Bank (February, 1960).

The Bowing Man In Cupola Bank unfortunately has no markings of any kind nor any patent dates which would be helpful in establishing the designer or patentee of the bank. Also there are no particular characteristics in the design or construction of the bank that would definitely identify it with any individual or concern. Further, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, there are no old catalogs or material of this nature that picture or describe the bank. However, the bank does have several things in common with the U.S. Bank (HOBBIES, January, 1958) and the New Bank.

There are similarities as to construction and the general overall appearance. All these banks are painted very similarly with the same unusual colors and the same type paint. Also the three banks are assembled in a like fashion with a rod or rods running vertically through the center of each bank and held together by this method. These clues are, however, not too helpful since both the U.S. Bank and the New Bank remain unknown as to background, designer, manufacturer, and so on. Two striking features of the Bowing Man In Cupola are the type door on the front of the building and the dormer windowed roof. These are almost identical to the door and dormers on the Novelty Bank which was made by the J. and E. Stevens Company. The door opens on the Novelty Bank, however, and is also slightly larger in overall size compared with the stationary door on the Bowing Man In Cupola. The writer is not convinced that this is conclusive enough to establish the bank as being a Stevens item and until such time that further information may turn up the history of the bank will remain unknown.

The circumstances under which the Bowing Man In Cupola was found are fortunately helpful in establishing its approximate age. The bank shown is in fine original condition with excellent paint. It was obtained by the writer from an antique dealer in the vicinity of Albany, N.Y. There were twin brothers living in a small town near Albany who died within a short time of each other at the age of 78. They had several mechanical banks including the Bowing Man In Cupola which were left in their estate and the antique dealer obtained the banks from the estate. The banks were in the possession of the brothers since their childhood so it is known that the Bowing Man In Cupola dates prior to 1890 and undoubtedly in the 1880 period.

The bank is attractively painted in bright colors as follows. The graceful circular top of the cupola is a colorful red with a dark green underside, the round sides of the cupola are dark blue, and this part sets on a round dark green section on top of the roof. The rods on each side of the cupola are red and the same color is on the movable drawer-like section in the front of the cupola. The man inside the cupola has a black derby-like hat and a red jacket with black buttons. The top of the roof of the building is a dark red and the slanting sides containing the dormers are dark blue. The dormer windows are white with red outlining and red criss-crossing. The sides of the building are dark green with the four corners outlined in red. The side windows are also outlined in red as is the front door section. The arch of the door is dark blue and the name "Bank" is in red on a white background. The window pane sections of the door are white with green outlining. The base of the building is dark blue with a white striped edge, and this completes a very colorful bank.

The operation of the bank is simple but very interesting. It is pictured ready to receive a coin. In normal position the figure of the man is face down covering the coin slot. To operate the bank the knob on the front section of the cupola is pulled forward. In so doing the drawer-like section moves forward causing the man to rise upright to the position in the picture. At the same time the coin slot is exposed to receive the coin. After depositing the coin the knob is released and the section recedes into the cupola. The figure at the same time bows in thanks for the coin and in so doing re-covers the coin slot. The action is attractive and appropriate and the mechanism is spring operated.

The Bowing Man In Cupola Bank makes a nice addition to a collection of mechanical banks. As a final word it is not to be confused with the Cupola Bank (Hobbies, June, 1957). Other than the cupola feature the two banks are entirely different both as to operation and appearance.


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