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Calumet Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - November, 1966

66-11.JPG (14731 bytes)An interesting little mechanical bank with an exceptionally unusual background is our choice as No. 150 in the numerical classification. With the exception of patent papers, which was all he had to go on for years, the writer knew very little about the Calumet Bank until recently. Then Ann and Ed Rost of St. Louis, Mo., found the bank pictured, and we now know considerably more about it. A unique feature of the Calumet, in addition to its being a production bank, is the fact that it is distinctly an advertising item. It was either given away or distributed as a premium in some fashion. Very few of the mechanicals fall into this category. The Weeden’s Plantation Darky Savings Bank, for example, in addition to being sold through regular channels was given as a premium for selling a certain number of subscriptions to the Youth’s Companion. The Pump And Bucket was also used as an advertising item by at least one concern, Gusky’s of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The exclusively advertising angle of the Calumet Bank very definitely adds to its interest.

From about 1898 to 1925 the Calumet Baking Powder Company was in business under this name in Chicago, Ill. They had considerable difficulty with competitors in using the name "Calumet." Calumet is an Indian word and it means "pipe of peace." This name was used by the Baking Powder Company in a broad sense to mean peace between housewife and grocer, and peace between grocer and manufacturer. The word Calumet was widely advertised and became a household name, along with the "Calumet Kid" shown in the picture. The Indian head, also shown in the picture, was their Trade Mark, and this was well known. In any event, due to certain business angles, on July 1, 1925, the Company changed their name to the Calumet Distributing Company.

Systems, a magazine of business, in its June, 1922 issue, goes into some detail about the Calumet Kid and his prominence as a national figure. At the time there were even movies made about the Kid.

The Calumet Bank was patented as an advertising novelty September 16, 1924, with the papers and drawings filed July 17, 1922. The patent was issued to Edward E. Barnes of Chicago, Ill., assignor to Calumet Baking Powder Company of Chicago, a corporation of Illinois. Two paragraphs from the text of the patent papers are of interest:

"My invention relates to toy banks of the kind designed for use more particularly as advertising novelties, one that is designed to attract attention by means of an image which is so positioned with respect to the coin receptacle of the bank that each time a coin is dropped into the receptacle the image will be actuated by the coin contacting with a portion of the body thereof extended into the receptacle, which causes the image to move.

"A further object of my invention is to provide a construction of this kind which is cheap to manufacture and which is arranged to provide a suitable surface for presenting advertising matter of any kind which will at all times be displayed in front of the moving image."

The Calumet Bank pictured is in fine original condition including the paper wrapper or label around the can receptacle. The size of the can approximates the ones used today to hold concentrated frozen orange juice. Colors of the bank are as follows: The paper surrounding the receptacle is an all over orange red with all printing in blue. The name "Calumet Baking Powder" is outlined or shaded in white. There is various outlining in red such as the Indian Trade Mark in the center. The front of the bank as to the name and so on is self explanatory as per the picture. On the back appears wording such as "Save Time and Money by using Calumet Baking Powder" – "You Save—when you buy it, when you use it, materials it is used with" – "Its saving qualities explain its popularity." The bust of the Calumet Kid has a black shirt with the wording "Thank You" in white. He wears a blue bow-tie with white polka dots. His face is flesh color with tinted pink rosy cheeks. Blue eyes, red tongue and black hair complete the coloring.

To operate the bank a coin is dropped into the provided slot and this causes the Kid to rock back and forth. The weight of the coin causes the action and this, as with a number of the other mechanicals, is a desirable feature. There is no provision for removing coins from the bank, and this undoubtedly contributes to its scarcity. Most were probably destroyed in getting the coins out of the bank.

In closing, the circumstances about Mr. & Mrs. Rost finding the bank are of interest. They were doing an antique show in Iowa where there was a display of old advertising items. The bank was in this display and the Rosts purchased it from the original owner who had it as a child in Fremont, Nebr.


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