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Santa Claus Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - December, 1966

66-12.JPG (11652 bytes)

We can say with complete confidence that it would be impossible to select a more appropriate mechanical bank for the 1966 Christmas issue than Santa Claus as pictured on the cover. Santa standing by the chimney conveys the full old fashioned tradition of gifts and toys to come for girls and boys. So with pleasant timing the Santa Claus Bank, a fine representation of the traditional Santa figure, is our choice as No. 151 in the numerical classification.

Before going into details concerning the Santa Claus mechanical bank, it bears mention that collecting various representations of Santa Claus is quite a hobby in itself. In the toy line, for example, there is the classic cast iron sleigh with Santa driving two reindeer. There are also several different type Santa still banks which are quite attractive. There is a fine Ives walking figure Santa Claus. This winds up, the mechanism is inside the figure, and it is made of wood, metal and cloth clothing. The writer even has an old cast iron ashtray which is the face of Santa Claus. There is another type toy cast iron Santa sleigh where he drives one reindeer, and a tin Santa still bank, and so on.

The Santa Claus Bank was patented October 15, 1889 by Charles G. Shepard and Peter Adams of Buffalo, N.Y., with Adams the assignor to Walter J. Shepard. The patent was issued as a design for a toy savings bank and the drawing included in the papers is practically identical to the production bank. As to the manufacturer, there is some question between the Shepard Hardware Company, Buffalo, N.Y. or the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. It has been attributed to Stevens in spite of the Shepard patent. This is based on the fact that Shepard patents were assigned to the Stevens Company and the Speaking Dog for example, was first made by Shepard and then later on by Stevens. As a matter of fact, the writer has the original papers covering assignments of patents and in two cases at least, the Speaking Dog and the Stump Speaker were assigned by Shepard to the Stevens Company, June 4, 1894. However, as to Santa Claus, the writer has never seen a Stevens Catalog or anything else that would indicate they made the bank at any time. The bank pictured has the identical type distinctive paint work done by Shepard. The eyes, for example, have the same detail as on Uncle Sam, which was only made by Shepard. Of course, it isn’t earth shaking to pin it down definitely as the Santa Claus was made by either of the two companies, or each at different periods. The writer leans to its being an exclusive Shepard Hardware Company product.

The Santa Claus shown (cover) is in complete original condition with very good paint. Santa wears a gray coat and hat flecked all over with white to simulate snow. The coat down the front and around the bottom is brown and the inside of his hat, exposed around his face, is red. His hands and face are pink and he has white eyebrows, blue eyes, and a fine white beard. The basket-like bag on his back is yellow with a black band at the top. Gold color toys, a boat, horn, doll, wheelbarrow, rocking horse, sword, high chair, and so on, are on a red background in the top of the bag. He wears black boots and stands on a gray-green base. The name "Santa Claus" in gold appears by the toes of his boots. The red chimney with white outlining of the bricks to simulate mortar completes the coloring of the bank.

The operation of the bank is simple but effective. As shown in the picture (see cover), a coin is first placed in the raised right hand of Santa. A lever located to the rear of his right foot is then pressed and Santa lowers his right hand dropping the coin into the chimney.

The Santa Claus Bank is a very fine, attractive item and, of course, particularly appropriate at Christmas time. In closing, it bears mention that the bank pictured has the wording "Pat. Appd. For" on the underside of the base. This, generally speaking, means that this bank or any bank with this terminology was manufactured before the patent date. However, it does not necessarily follow that immediate action was taken on the date a patent was issued to inscribe the date on any given bank. Some mechanical banks were not made for a long period of time and never got beyond using "Pat. Appd. For" on all examples produced. However, when given examples of a specific bank are known to exist with some inscribed "Pat. Appd. For" and others with a patent date thereon, we know that those without the date are the earlier types and usually produced before and not long after the date of patent.

—O—

SOME FINE CAST IRON TOYS (See Cover)

Our cover this month of December, 1966, features along with Santa Claus some excellent examples of very desirable cast iron toys. The writer has received many, many requests to do articles on cast iron toys and here at long last are some of the desirable types.

A quite rare toy is the Brownie Patrol evolved from the original creation of Palmer Cox whose Brownies swept the country with their popularity in the 1880’s and ’90’s. The toy is attributed to Wilkins Toy Company of Keene, N.H., circa 1890. It has the Policeman, the Dude, the Chinaman, and so on riding in the patrol. It is a well detailed, colorful, rather small toy and very desirable.

The Spider Phaeton is a rare type cast iron horse drawn toy pleasure vehicle. The coachman sits up in back with folded arms while the lady drives. This fine toy was made by Kenton Hardware Mfg. Co. of Kenton, Ohio, circa 1903.

The Coach is an excellent example of fine detail in the horse drawn pleasure type of cast iron toy. It was made by Wilkins Toy Company, circa 1892, and undoubtedly is the best type coach in its carriage category ever produced. When pulled along the horses move rocking up and down, and the doors are hinged for opening and closing.

The Monkey On Tricycle bell ringer, is a product of the J. & E. Stevens Company. It was patented in 1883 and appears in a number of their catalogs of the period. When pulled along, the Monkey moves its legs as though riding the tricycle and the bell rings by motivation of the rear wheels. It is painted in bright appropriate colors.

Another fine bell toy shown is the Ding Dong Bell made by Gong Bell Mfg. Co. of East Hampton, Conn. It appears in their L 1 Catalog for the years 1903 and 1904. When the toy is pulled the bell is caused to swing back and forth and ring merrily along.

Last, but by far not least, is the great Kenton Steamer Fire Engine. It is probably the finest pumper type toy fire engine ever made. The detail is unusually well done and it is a very colorful large piece. Overall it measures 26 inches long and the three realistic action horses are 11 inches long. It has been said by some that Ives made the finest cast iron toys of all times, but this simply isn’t fact. Kenton, Hubley, Wilkins, Pratt & Letchworth, and several other concerns made cast iron toys that in numbers of cases surpass anything ever produced by Ives. Please understand this does not imply that Ives did not make some excellent toys as they most certainly did do so. However, their general line, and understand we are speaking of cast iron toys, most certainly did not surpass everyone else’s. The Kenton fire engine pictured on the cover was made by Kenton Hardware Company, circa 1915, and, by the way, if anyone notices that the word "Manufacturing" is left out of the company name this time, it is because the word was dropped from their name sometime after 1903.

Of noteworthy interest is the fact that the six cast iron toys as detailed here are all in fine original condition with no repairs and excellent paint. All figures, drivers and riders, are original.

 

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