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Seek Him Frisk Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - October, 1967

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An occasion of the greatest satisfaction in collecting mechanical banks is that whereby a heretofore unknown mechanical bank is brought to light. As years and more years have gone by since mechanical banks first became collector’s items, the frequency of such an occasion has, of course, percentage-wise decreased. But it still happens, and that’s one of the great, intriguing aspects of collecting these interesting mechanical toy savings devices. So it is with real pleasure that we pass along the information a Seek Him Frisk Bank has been found, and it’s a wonderful bank with lots of good action. This bank then, necessarily so at this point, is No. 159 in the numerical classification. Here again it must be brought out that the Seek Him Frisk belongs far up the list from its present classification, however, the number in itself is not now important and will suffice for present purposes.

Seek Him Frisk was patented July 19, 1881 by John Murray of New York City. The bank pictured as produced commercially operates as per the patent, with one improved exception. The cat, instead of going straight up the tree, actually goes around and up the tree. This improved action is considerably more attractive and realistic as described further on. Seek Him Frisk is the second of several banks patented by Murray. His first known patented bank (as yet undiscovered to the best of the writer’s knowledge) was May 3, 1881.

This consisted of a bust type bank wherein the tongue protruded from the mouth of the head. The tongue was counter-balanced so a coin placed thereon caused the tongue to swing inside the mouth and the coin dropped or slid from the tongue hitting another counter-balanced lever inside the bank, which caused the eyes to vibrate up and down.

Murray patented another bank March 21, 1882 (also undiscovered to the best of the writer’s knowledge). Quoting from the patent papers, this bank was as follows: "Invention consists in a toy savings bank constructed of a slotted platform having the figure of a man and a money-receiving compartment at its rear end and the figure of a hen-coop and a man at its forward end and carrying the figure of a dog connected with it by a slide and a spiral spring, the trip bar having the figure of chicken-heads upon its upper end, the pivoted eccentric block having the representations of eyes and a tongue, and a trip-lever, whereby the weight of a coin dropped upon the said trip-lever will release the dog, and the forward movement of the dog will cause the figure of the man to roll his eyes and draw in his tongue, and will project chicken-heads from his hat, as will be hereinafter fully described."

Murray then some nine years later patented another chicken coop motif bank October 27, 1891. Reference is made to this in the Uncle Remus Bank article (HOBBIES, October, 1953) as a possible connection. It is not known, however, with certainty that these were the patent papers for the Uncle Remus Bank.

The writer does not know, of course, if either the bust bank or the two with the chicken coop action were ever made. The fact that one of his patented banks has finally turned up is encouraging in the area that one or more of his other patents may have been produced and could eventually be discovered. In any event, acquiring the Seek Him Frisk Bank has afforded the writer a considerable amount of pleasure and satisfaction since he has off and on looked at the patent papers of this bank over a period of years wondering if it had ever been made.

Seek Him Frisk was obtained through the good help of an antique dealer in Ohio. Prior to the dealer it was in the possession of an elderly lady in Canton, Ohio. The bank shown is in nice condition with colors as follows: The overall base is black with green leaves thereon and some flower representations in yellow and red. The two tree stumps are brown, a few green lines down the sides, and have yellow tops. The tree is also brown with entwined green vines and the leaves at the top are green. The cat is silver with red eyes and mouth and the dog is gold with red eyes and mouth. This completes the coloring.

The bank as pictured in Figure 1 is set and ready for action. A coin slot is in the top of the large tree trunk at the left end of the bank. A coin dropped therein releases the dog and he moves rapidly along the base toward the cat at the bottom of the tree. Just as he reaches the cat, the cat swiftly goes up and around the tree, and each is then in position as in Figure 2. The animals are manually replaced as in Figure 1 for further action. In each case they snap into their respective positions and remain there until another coin is deposited into the tree stump slot.

The Seek Him Frisk is a really fine mechanical bank. It is well made and designed. It has appeal and realism in its subject matter, with excellent action. It is necessary to use a coin to start the action. These and other factors add up to a great bank and the writer feels very fortunate in being able to add this intriguing item to the list of known mechanical banks. In closing, it bears mention, to further point out the good design and mechanics of the bank, that the tree is adjustable at the base by means of a screw enabling the cat to be exactly positioned for contact by the dog.


Correction to September article:
In reference to Wimbledon Bank article, date should read 1956, not 1966.


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