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Mechanical Bank Ramblings
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - July, 1963

To continue on from last month’s Ramblings, we have a couple of additional interesting factors concerning Charles A. Bailey, as well as several other points of interest.

Recently, the writer obtained an exceptionally well made toy cannon from Lloyd Ralston of Warren, Ohio. Lloyd is dealing in cast iron toys and mechanical banks, as well as retaining some of these items for his own collection. The cannon has unusual detail on each side of the carriage. On one side is a well designed large eagle and on the other there is a pyramid of cannon balls and a powder keg. This type of ornamentation is somewhat unique on a toy cannon, and the entire cast iron carriage is quite graceful and attractive. On the trail appears the date August 28, 1894. The two cast iron wheels are well made and the cannon barrel is brass with a star on top where the barrel pivots in the frame. The barrel, from the front, can be swung on down and back between the wheels, which is also unusual. All told the cannon intrigued the writer, and other than the feeling that it was made by J. & E. Stevens he had to find out all about it. Subsequent research into the matter revealed that Charles A. Bailey designed and patented the cannon. As a matter of fact he took out two patents on toy cannon under the date of August 28, 1894, both of which were assigned to the J. & E. Stevens Company. So along with the many fine mechanical banks designed and patented by Bailey, we can now add toy cannon. There is considerable interesting detail and information in the patent papers concerning these two Bailey designed cannon, however, we will not attempt to cover it here at this time.

* * *

Now please refer to the article on the Perfection Registering Bank, HOBBIES, September, 1959. At the time the writer attributed this bank to Charles A. Bailey and the J. & E. Stevens Company. The bank, as pointed out in the 1959 article, merely has the terminology "Patent Applied For" thereon. This affords practically no help at all insofar as locating the patent papers as after all when a patent was applied for, it would not necessarily indicate that a patent was granted, only the possibility of such would be indicated. The writer is pleased to say that he has found the patent papers covering the Perfection Registering Bank. It was designed and patented by Charles A. Bailey, January 10, 1893, and assigned by Bailey to the J. & E. Stevens Company. There are four full sheets to this patent, two of the sheets consist of eight drawings of the bank and various parts; the other two sheets are filled with complete details as to all parts and their operation. As pointed out in the papers, one main feature was to provide a bank with mechanism that would not easily get out of order. Of interest is the fact that in the patent diagrams of the bank the wording "Put In The Dimes" appears in place of the name Perfection Registering Bank. This was apparently Bailey’s original idea, however, when put into production it must have been decided that it would be well to point out the trouble free mechanism by using the chosen name. Other than this wording angle the bank as produced by Stevens is practically identical to the patent diagrams and descriptions.

* * *

Another point of detail is brought out by a recent letter and quoted from in part:

"Enclosed please find $2 for one of your mechanical bank booklets.

"Mr. Griffith I hope you can give me a little information on a mechanical bank I have.

"Every article I have seen on this bank spells it ‘Creedmore.’ I have one of these banks and it is marked ‘Creedmoor,’ Bank, November 6, 1877. I got this bank from a friend who had it given to him about 40 years ago by a rich lady for whom his aunt worked.

"I would appreciate hearing from you."

Well, our friend is correct, and the spelling should be "Creedmoor," with the double "o" just as it appears on the bank. Along with everyone else apparently, the writer has somewhat carelessly misspelled the name in general usage and the lady whose letter we have quoted is in for a mild surprise as the writer has also misspelled the name in his booklet.

* * *

Last but not least, at this time we would like to clarify the facts as to the earliest known dated mechanical bank. The Hall’s Excelsior of 1869 has, for some time, been accepted as the bank to occupy this position. This is true up to a point but being very technical if we use just the terminology "mechanical bank" in the broad coverage, then it is not correct. Please refer to the March, 1963, article on the J. & E. Stevens Company where the writer refers to the first known dated cast iron mechanical bank as being the Hall’s Excelsior. This is true when referring to a cast iron bank and the date of the patent is December 21, 1869. However, on February 16 of the same year, 1869, James Serrill of Philadelphia, Pa., was issued a patent on what he termed "The Magic Savings Bank." This consisted of a wooden bureau having a movable drawer with a false bottom. Coins put into the drawer disappeared when the drawer was closed. This bank was produced commercially and the date and Serrill’s name were stenciled on the inside bottom of the drawer. Actually then, this bank is the earliest known dated mechanical bank. While in the same year as Hall’s Excelsior, it precedes the Excelsior by some ten months. As to the actual time or date that the first mechanical bank was made may never be known. Hall’s bank could have been produced before Serrill’s, but this would have nothing to do with changing the factors surrounding the dates on the banks themselves.


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