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Bureau Bank (Serrill Patent)
Freedmens Bureau Bank
Give Me A Penny Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - June, 1967

67-06a.JPG (37576 bytes)

The Freedmens Bureau, Figure 3, is also in fine original condition and was obtained by the writer through the good help of Ross Trump of Medina, Ohio. The operation and general setup of this bank is the same as the Bureau (Serrill Patent). While a commercially produced item, no dates are shown on the bank and it is doubtful it was ever patented. The wording on the bank as shown in the picture is of considerable interest and appears as follows: On the top of the bureau in rather large gold stenciled letters is the name "Freedmens Bureau." The letters form a curve and in the center of the name is a gold decoration. On the front, also stenciled in gold letters, the top drawer in curved fashion has "Now You See It;" the center drawer has a decoration with "&" in the center; and the bottom drawer "Now You Don’t." This bank is a well made small size chest in walnut and finished appropriately in varnish and so on. The two lower drawers are representations and do not operate. As to the age of the bank, it is reasonable to assume it was made in the approximate period of the Freedman’s Bank, which would place it circa 1882. It could, however, be earlier than this.

67-06b.JPG (17633 bytes)The Give Me A Penny Bank is an exceptionally well made mechanical bank. It is in complete original fine condition and was obtained by the writer some years ago from the late Dave Hollander. It is not a bureau but does have the same type operating top drawer as the previous two banks. The bank as pictured in Figure 4 has the drawer open to receive the coin. When opened the drawer causes the picture of the monkey to rise into position as shown in the photo. In closing the drawer the picture lowers down inside the bank so the top is completely flush with the top of the bank. On the front of the bank under the drawer appears a fine representation of a lion’s head.

The bank is nicely finished varnished walnut. The lion has black eyes and a red mouth. The monkey and the wording are stenciled on a plain unfinished light wood. The name "Give Me A Penny" is in black. The monkey is brown with a red jacket and blue trousers. He has a red protruding tongue, yellow tie and sleeve cuffs, and holds a black hat in his left hand. On the other side there is a rather ornate stencil in black and the large letter S is formed in the stencil. This bank has a key lock drawer in the lower back. This drawer is lined with a carpet-like material and the coins drop therein from the top front drawer.

In conclusion on the Give Me A Penny Bank, we are faced once again with a bank having no dates thereon, no background information to the best of the writer’s knowledge, and no certainty as to the period in which it was made. There is no question as to its having considerable age or its being a commercially produced item. It is hoped that some future research will turn up definite information on the bank. There is the possibility, unlike the previous two banks made in the United States, that it is of English origin. This could account for the lack of background information, but this is only a guess.

The three banks pictured, Bureau Bank (Serrill Patent), Freedmens Bureau, and the Give Me A Penny Bank, are difficult to find items and quite rare. As of this writing, the number of fingers on one hand can account for all known specimens that exist in collections to date.


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