It bears mentioning that we have reached a point in the classification articles where a number of the mechanical banks are in the same area of desirability, value, and so on. That is to say they all have about the same rating and placing one ahead of another can be somewhat a matter of personal choice. This would apply to several already covered, the present article, and a number to be covered in future articles. Those we have done so far that are in the same level or rating category are the Magician Bank (June, 1964), Boy Scout Bank (April, 1964), Leap Frog Bank (March, 1964), Jonah & The Whale (February, 1964), Zoo Bank (November, 1963), and several others.
Most of the banks in this same rating level are quite interesting, appealing, and have good action. This, of course, led to their popularity in their respective periods, and thus quantities of each were made and sold. So, while these banks are more or less common as compared to those in the first 100 mechanical banks (HOBBIES, February, 1962), actually they are among the most interesting and desirable of the mechanicals from the standpoint of good action, popular appeal, and so on. By the way, describing these banks at this level as being common is not meant to convey the impression that they are readily available. Such banks as the Boy Scout Camp, Jonah & The Whale, and others in this area are not easy to come by, particularly so in good original condition with no missing parts or repairs. Some of the other mechanicals in this same rating group to be covered by future articles are Cat & Mouse, Mammy & Child, Bill E. Grin, Boys Stealing Watermelons, Clown On Globe, Monkey With Tray, a number of others, and now at present the Mason Bank, our choice as No. 121 in the numerical classification. This is a good action bank with good subject matter and an attractive appearance.
The Mason Bank shown is from the fine collection of Leon Perelman of Merion, Pa. He obtained it from an Eastern antique dealer and it is in good original condition. The bank was patented under a design patent February 8, 1887 by Charles G. Shepard and Peter Adams of Buffalo, N.Y. The design patent states "said Adams assignor to Walter J. Shepard of same place." The bank was manufactured by the Shepard Hardware Company, also of Buffalo. It is one of their "Excelsior Series," and the bank itself bears this inscription on the underside of the base plate. The drawing which is part of the design patent is practically identical to the bank as produced by Shepard Hardware, even to the details of the facial characteristics of the two figures. Actually about the only difference is the fact that the name "Mason Bank" does not appear on the sketch or drawing.
As mentioned, the bank is a very attractive item and painted in realistic colors. The brickwork which represents a wall or portion of an unfinished building is red with mortar spaces in white. This rests on a block-like section or base which is blue-gray. The overall base surface of the bank is tan and the bucket setting thereon is yellow with black bands and handle. The mortar receptacle resting on the base is brown and the mortar mix therein is light gray. The hoe in the mortar mix is black with a brown handle. The angled sides or edges of the base are maroon with black and gold striping. The figure of the hod carrier has black shoes, blue trousers, green suspenders, red shirt, and a gray hat with a green band. His face and arms are flesh pink and, as with all the Shepard produced banks, the facial work is very well done with well defined eyes, eyebrows, and so on. The hod over his right shoulder is tan and brown with gray mortar. The figure behind the wall laying the brick has a blue jacket and white shirt. His hat is brown and yellow, the trowel is brown and again holding gray mortar. Face and arms are the same color as those of the hod carrier and the facial work is excellent with a fine, large black moustache. The back of the building or wall section is maroon with a gray top. On the square shaped end of this section appears the name "Mason Bank" in large gold block letters. This name is repeated on the base in front of the mortar receptacle in smaller block letters, also in gold. The many different colors used make it quite a colorful bank.
The bank operates as follows: A coin is first placed in the hod. The lever, located in the end of the bank by the mortar receptacle, is then depressed. This causes the hod carrier to lower his right arm tilting the hod forward. The coin slides from the hod into a provided section behind the brick wall. This section opens automatically to receive the coin. The other figure raises both arms lifting the trowel and brick simultaneously. Upon releasing the lever all parts return of their own accord to the positions shown in the picture. The section that receives the coin also closes automatically. So the bank has nice realistic action and the coin plays a part in this action, which is a desirable feature. Accumulated coins are removed from the bank by means of a rectangular key-lock coin trap in the base plate under the building-like section.
The Mason Bank makes a very interesting addition to a collection of mechanical banks with its construction or building motif. It is unique among the mechanicals in representing and utilizing this subject matter as its theme.