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Mechanical Bank Ramblings
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - October, 1962

A considerable number of the letters received by the writer concerning mechanical banks consists of questions which are quite often of general interest to all collectors of these interesting animated toy savings devices, and for that matter to dealers as well. Continuing along with the same trend as last month’s article, it is felt by the writer that a few more of these questions are worthy of attention and important enough to be dealt with here in this fashion. Naturally all queries received by the writer cannot be answered in article form, some, however, do bear special attention and are important enough from a general information standpoint.

Getting back to the English mechanicals, we must realize that there has been greater and increasing interest in these banks in more or less recent times. This is quite natural as in the earlier days of collecting mechanical banks a far greater degree of concentration and effort was placed on finding the ones made in our country. They offered the line of least resistance, were more readily available and obtainable, and for some of these earlier years the English banks just didn’t have the same recognition and acceptance. This seeming lack of interest in English Banks was mainly due to the fact that no one knew anything about them and they just were not available. No one had ever taken the time and effort to dig into the situation and ferret out the facts as to what banks were made over there, where they were made, by what company, and so on. More misinformation and conjecture existed than actual truth and this didn’t help the situation any and, as a matter of fact, retarded it. It is not necessary to go into detail here as to the effort and time put into correcting the foreign mechanical bank problem in general, and the English banks in particular. Suffice to say that today we have considerable information and background. The English banks, as well as German and others, have all come into their own and are no longer mysteries in most cases.

It has been well pointed out that the bust type bank was a very popular item in England, and the Dinah, Jolly Nigger (High Hat), and some others have re-established a value level. They were made over a period of years in considerable quantities and persistent effort in seeking them out has resulted in a number being found. Do not, however, be misled by this as some of the later bust type banks are very hard to find as they were made in smaller quantities and manufactured for a short period of time. Little Moe and the Clown Bust are typical examples of this fact. Also concentrated effort for some years now has not resulted in changing the situation on fine rare banks like the Football Bank, Wimbledon, Tommy Bank, Giant In Tower, and John Bull’s Money Box, to name a few. At this stage of the game it’s fairly safe to say that things will remain pretty much as they are with English banks. A great deal of interest has been generated in England in seeking out and looking for mechanical banks, and the general situation over there is now comparable to that in the United States. In closing on the English and foreign banks for the present, it bears mention as to the surprising number of American made mechanical banks that have turned up in England. This is not really too surprising when one considers the numbers of mechanical banks that were exported to England by some manufacturers in the United States, in particular the J. & E. Stevens Company. The opposite is true in our case, as most of the English banks have turned up in England, with a scattering of them being found in our country.

Now we will try to settle the problem of the Feed The Kitty Bank. Facts are facts and when they are known there is not much point in disputing them. The Feed The Kitty Bank was never manufactured commercially or put on the market for sale to the public. All examples of this bank that exist today were made some years ago by a party in the East who borrowed the original patent pattern model from the New York inventor himself, cast a number of examples of the bank and painted them to look old and so on. This was not done with the consent of the inventor. In any event, there is no such thing as an authentic Feed The Kitty Bank and there never will be. There is an authentic pattern of the bank and that’s all there is. As a pattern it is in a class with some of the other pattern banks such as the Blacksmith, Twin Bank, and Hall’s Yankee Notion Bank, which, like Feed The Kitty, were never produced commercially. Some patterns of commercially produced mechanical banks also exist. The existing patterns of banks, however, form their own group and are known as such. Now if a collector wants to have one of the Feed The Kitty Banks in his collection, it is certainly his privilege to do so, but it’s something else again if he represents it as an authentic mechanical bank, as this it can never be. It is simply an oddity, the same as Long May It Wave and the Carnival Bank. One slight difference is the fact that these two banks were represented as authentic banks when sold some years ago.

This leads us back to certain individuals who have published supposedly authentic rating and value lists on mechanical banks when they actually have limited knowledge on the subject. Feed The Kitty, Carnival, Long May It Wave, and others have been listed as authentic mechanical banks. This is only misleading to both collector and dealer and it is hoped by the writer that the information herein will clarify the situation.

In closing, there is another frequently questioned problem and this has to do with the percentage or degree of decrease in value of repaired banks or banks with replaced figures or parts as compared to complete original specimens. This is an involved problem and will be dealt with in the near future since it is quite a subject in itself. So to all those who have written on this problem be advised that this subject will be covered.


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