Kick Inn Bank
Mechanical banks made of wood with colored paper representations thereon are quite unusual and as a matter of fact only two are known to have been manufactured in this fashion. One, the Kick Inn Bank, is our choice as No. 153 in the numerical classification, and the second is the very rare Presto Savings Bank (HOBBIES, March, 1960). While these are the only known mechanical banks made this way, there were many other type toys made of paper covered wood. These included fire pumpers, hook and ladders, trains, boats, carriages, and many, many types of games, including blocks. Its surprising that toys of this nature, many of which were made in the 1880s, have survived to the present time. While they certainly arent plentiful, they do turn up now and then. This type toy, including the two mechanical banks, were and are, in the final analysis, in a rather fragile category and could not stand any degree of dampness or moisture with respect to the paper covering. Transversely, being made of wood, they had a certain sturdiness about them whereby some have survived through the years.
The Presto Savings Bank, as mentioned, is a very rare mechanical bank and an early item, having been made in the period of 1885. The Kick Inn Bank is a considerably later item, 1921, and not even remotely as hard to come by as the Presto. There is no comparison in this area between the two banks, and as matter of fact the Presto Savings Bank is a much more finely produced item. It is rather strange when one considers the span of years between the two banks and the fact no other types are known to have been made in paper covered wood during this long period of time.
The Kick Inn Bank was patented February 15, 1921 by Melville E. Stoltz of St. Louis, Mo. It was manufactured by the Presto Novelty Company, also of St. Louis. The writer is indebted to Arnold Stoltz of Beverly Hills, Calif., the son of Melville E. Stoltz, for background information concerning his father, the bank, and so on. His father started making toys when German imports were cut off by World War I, and one of his first was a toy theatre complete and with Cinderella in a break away pumpkin that became a coach. At the time of the Kick Inn Bank, while the original label states it was made by Presto Novelty Manufacturing, in reality this was a name used by his father when he actually had the Wilder Manufacturing Company of St. Louis make the bank. In other words, Wilder, who made other toys on their own, was the manufacturer for Presto Novelty. Mr. Melville Stoltz died in 1937 at the age of 81 and one newspaper referred to him as a "Pied Piper" since he always had a bunch of neighborhood children on his doorstep. He had been a pal of Diamond Jim Brady, manager for David Warfield, and press agent for Flo Ziegfield, and while he had walked with the great in his day, his happiest times, according to his son, was to see a childs pleasure when playing with one of the toys he had produced.
The Kick Inn Bank shown is in excellent complete original condition and colors are as follows: The inn has a red chimney and a dark green roof. Front, back and sides of the inn are covered with paper showing light blue windows and stone block. The name "Kick Inn" appears in black under the peak of the roof in front. A red tin canopy is over the entrance way. The inn and mule are on a light green base. The mule is gray with red and white mouth effect. He has floppy leather ears and a hemp tail. A red tin operating lever is on the base between the mule and the inn. The underside of the base has four rather thick round red felt pads, one on each corner. Also on the underside a paper label gives directions for assembling the bank. This shows the name "Kick Inn" and underneath "Mechanical Toy Savings Bank," then appears the patent date and the manufacturer "Presto Novelty Mfg. Co."
The bank as pictured is ready for operation. A coin has been placed in the slot in the canopy and the rear legs of the mule set on the lever. When the lever is pressed the mule pivots on his front legs and his rear legs kick out and up. In so doing he kicks the canopy holding the coin. The canopy is hinged so that the coin is thrown into a coin slot in the inn over the canopy. The mule who ends up more or less standing on his head is then reset by hand for further action and operation.
Frankly speaking, the Kick Inn Bank is a somewhat crude mechanical bank and has a certain almost primitive hand-made look about it, particularly as compared to the other mechanicals. There is no question, however, as to its being an authentic commercially produced item and its a must to have in a collection. Its primitive or hand-made appearance does have a certain appeal, as for example note in the picture the way the wire springs are simply fastened to the front and rear legs and completely exposed. In any event, thats the way the bank was made and it makes an interesting addition to a collection.