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

63-12.JPG (21445 bytes)The Ding Dong Bell is one of the rare desirable mechanical banks and it appeared in article form in the October, 1954, issue of HOBBIES. In this article the writer stated that the back of the bank was the same as the Weeden’s Plantation Darky Savings Bank (HOBBIES, August, 1963). This is true with respect to the winding key, key to unlock the bank, the locking coin door, and so on. However, there is a difference in the wording of the Ding Dong Bell, and this has some importance and is of interest. This came to the writer’s attention at the time of his having some difficulty in locating the five patent papers covering the Plantation Bank.

The Ding Dong Bell has the statement "Five U.S. Patents Allowed" on the back paper label. This, of course, protected the bank under the same patents of August 7, 1888, which covered the Plantation Bank. This statement also means that the Ding Dong Bell was made after this date. Other wording on the back of the bank which is of considerable significance is as follows: "Weeden Manufacturing Company — New Line of Mechanical Savings Banks — Six Styles." This is one of the few cases where mechanical banks, as we use the terminology today, were originally referred to as mechanical banks. In other words, the animated toy savings devices we have come to generalize as mechanical banks were practically never referred to as such during their period.

The mention of "Six Styles" would certainly indicate that Weeden produced six different mechanical banks, all most likely covered by the same five patents which actually protected the clock-work type mechanism. To the best of the writer’s knowledge only two types of Weeden mechanical banks are known to exist, and these are the Plantation and Ding Dong Bell. It is fairly well established that they made a Japanese Ball Tosser (HOBBIES, July, 1961), but to date the writer knows of no example of this bank existing in private collections or otherwise. This then, would leave the possibility that three other different mechanical banks with a clock-work type mechanism were produced, and the further possibility that examples of these may still exist as yet undiscovered by collectors. Rumors for some years have indicated that Weeden made a Grasshopper Bank and a School Teacher Bank. However, the writer does not have, nor has he ever seen, any evidence or proof of any kind that would substantiate either of these banks.

While we are on the subject of the Weeden Manufacturing Company, Mrs. Sara Lowe of New Bedford, Mass., has come up with another interesting sidelight concerning the company. Mrs. Lowe recently obtained a few old, small bottles of 3-In-One Oil. They are attractive triangular shape and green in color. A folder that came with each bottle is imprinted with the name "Weeden Toy Steam Engines", and these small bottles of oil were given as samples by Weeden with their various steam toys.

Of considerable interest is the recent discovery of a companion bank to the 5c Adding Bank. This is the 10c Adding Bank and it is pictured herewith through the courtesy of Leon Perelman in whose collection it now resides. While both are registering banks, the 5c Adding has been considered in the mechanical category for some years now, the same as the Perfection Registering (HOBBIES, September, 1959) and the Registering Dime Savings Bank (Mechanical Clock). The 10c Adding, like the 5c, has the same automatic front opening door and is the same overall size and structure. Of course, it works with dimes rather than nickels, but other than this the two banks are alike, including the mechanisms. Both carry the same patent date of August 20, 1889, which is stenciled on the back of each bank. Details of this new find, as well as the 5c Adding, will appear at the proper time in the regular classification articles. In any event, Mr. Perelman is to be congratulated on turning up what is, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, a heretofore unknown mechanical bank.

In closing at this time we can add another name to the list of known mechanical banks. This too, as far as the writer knows is a new discovery. The bank is the Music Bank, and it is an unusual looking affair made of sheet metal. It is a decorative item of good construction and very definitely, in the writer’s opinion, a commercially produced piece, most likely of foreign manufacture. It is painted black with extra fine decoration of birds, flowers, and so on, somewhat similar in appearance to Worcester china. A coin dropped in the provided slot in the top of the bank causes the music to play for a given time and then another coin repeats the action and so on. Further details on the bank, who found it, and other information will be given at the proper time in a subsequent article.


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