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Boy on Trapeze Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - January, 1965

65-01.JPG (12925 bytes)A great favorite of the writer’s, and one of the nicest of all the mechanical banks, is our choice as No. 126 in the numerical classification. This is the Boy On Trapeze Bank, a very attractive well made item with clever action based on the size and weight of the coin used in its operation. A coin is thus necessary in operating the bank and causes the animated action. This, as has been pointed out in past articles on some of the other mechanical banks, is a very desirable feature. In addition, the bank is well proportioned and has a certain graceful appearance about it.

In spite of the fact that there is evidence the Boy On Trapeze had a patent pending during its period of manufacture, the writer has to date been unsuccessful in his search for any patent papers that would apply to the bank. Fortunately, however, an original advertising flyer of the period is most helpful in establishing factual background information about the bank. This advertising card, like some others used to publicize mechanical banks during their era, is printed on both sides. On one side there are two pictures of the bank in colors. One shows it in position before operation and the other during the action. The pictures accurately depict the bank and are bright and colorful. Printed between the pictures is the following:

Children’s Choice
French’s Automatic Toy Bank
For one penny dropped in the
head the boy revolves once.
For a nickel twice.
For a quarter dollar three times.
For a half dollar six times.

The other side of the card has the following information printed thereon:

The Children’s Choice

The Savings Bank that never fails—is always open for deposits—paying interest from the start.

For one penny dropped in the head the boy revolves once and deposits the coin. For a nickel he will go around twice—for a quarter dollar three times—for a half dollar four times—showing that the more money the boy gets, the more he will do to earn it.

It is entirely automatic and cannot get out of order.
Each bank packed securely in a wooden box. Patent pending.
For Sale by JACOBS, WHITCOMB & CO. Boston, Mass.
The J. BARTON SMITH CO., Sole Manufacturers, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.A.

It’s interesting to note that this original advertising item on the Boy On Trapeze actually contradicts itself. The front states he revolves six times for a half dollar, and the back says four times for the same coin. In any event, this is a minor but interesting mistake. The importance of the card lies in knowing the manufacturer, one of the sales agents, and the original name of the bank. The original name, by the way, would indicate that a person by the name of French designed and possibly patented the bank. The name French’s Automatic Toy Bank also brings up another salient point. This is the necessity in some cases where the name is not inscribed on the bank itself, such as the one under discussion, for renaming the bank with a more descriptive title. The Boy On Trapeze readily identifies the bank for what it represents, while its original name would give no clue as to its appearance.

The bank shown is in fine condition with good paint and the colors are as follows: The boy has a red shirt with a blue ruffled collar, his socks are also red, as is his peaked hat which is tipped in black. His hands and face are a flesh color. His hair and the ball suspended from his right foot are the same color, a brown maroon shade. Blue trousers or knee breeches and black shoes complete the coloring on the boy. The entire base has a dark brown japanned type finish thereon. The base of the bank bears special mention since it is one of the finest and most attractive of all the mechanical banks. It consists of decorative, somewhat intricate scrollwork on the four sloping sides, as well as the top and bottom sections. A mask is cast at the front and back of the large slot that receives the coins. Two screws would appear to hold the bank together, one screw is genuine and the other is a representation of a screwhead made in the casting. The bottom plate of the base is actually a large coin trap. This is hinged and held in place by one screw. When this screw is turned, the entire plate swings open. The upright side supports that suspend the boy are also cast in a decorative fashion.

The operation of the bank has already been explained in quoting from the original advertising flyer. The solid ball on the right foot acts as a counterweight balance, of course, and the number of revolutions is controlled by the various weights of the different coins used. Needless to say, dimes were not considered by the designer or manufacturer of this mechanical bank as a 10c piece would interrupt the continuity.

In closing it bears mention that the Boy On Trapeze shares similarities with a very rare bank, the Clown On Bar (HOBBIES, April, 1956). Naturally there is no comparison in value between the two banks since the Clown On Bar is a rare, very desirable bank. However, this does not preclude the fact that the operation of the Boy On Trapeze is considerably more interesting and is the more decorative of the two.


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