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Chein Mechanical Banks
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - October, 1969

69-10.JPG (21427 bytes)J. Chein and Company of Burlington, N.J., are manufacturers of lithographed metal toys, and among the very nice line of toys they produce today are two toy banks, the Globe Bank and the Dime Register Bank. This was not the case, however, some years back as they produced, over a period of time, a fine select group of mechanical banks as well as a number of very interesting still banks. There is no question that the Chein line of banks comprise the largest group of tin banks ever produced in the United States by any individual concern. This is most certainly a mark of distinction for the Chein Company.

First in order is a brief, concise history of the company. It was originally founded by Julius Chein in 1903 and was located in a loft in New York City. Mr. Chein started with a small line of tin toys and this progressed to an increasingly larger line, and around 1910 to 1915 the company moved into a plant in Harrison, N.Y. They remained in Harrison until 1949 when the company was moved to its present location in Burlington, N.J. Their line of tin toys increased over the years and included in more recent times some very interesting mechanical wind-up types, such as the Merry Go Round — Ferris Wheel — Space Ride — Helicopter — and a 15-inch Cabin Cruiser.

So much for their general toys for the present, since our specific interest is in the banks that they made, and more specifically the mechanicals. Pictured herewith is a mint condition group of the known Chein mechanicals including two varieties, one of the Clown and the other the Monkey. From the top of the rack, left to right — the Clown Bank with key locking coin trap was produced from 1931 into the 40’s. He is brightly colored in red, blue, yellow, white, green and black. Press the lever and he sticks out his tongue to receive the coin.

Next is the Elephant Bank, produced in the 1940’s and through the 50’s, brightly colored in gray, red, blue, yellow, and white. Place coin on trunk, press lever, and trunk moves up sliding coin on inside figure. Last bank on top of rack the other Clown Bank, round coin trap, and name ‘Bank’ on collar, same coloring as other Clown and same operation. Production on this variety of the original Clown Bank started in 1949.

On the first shelf is the 2nd National Duck Bank which was pictured in color in the 1954 Chein catalog. It was made somewhat before and after this time. This bank is quite desirable showing Mickey and Minnie Mouse, bright colors again in red, yellow, blue, green, white, and brown. Push the knob to the right and Donald sticks out his tongue to receive coin. A lever under Mickey’s chin is then pressed and tongue snaps back into bank depositing coin therein.

Middle shelf — Monkey Bank with key lock coin trap and pictured in color in the 1934 Chein catalog. Attractive colors in brown, red, yellow, and black. Drop coin in slot and monkey tips his hat. His right arm tilts forward by weight of coin. Next the Uncle Wiggily Bank, pictured in color in the 1954 Chein catalog. Again, bright, attractive colors in red, yellow, blue, white, pink, orange, green and black. Coin is dropped into slot in back causing right arm to lift carrot to mouth. This is one of the more difficult Chein banks to add to a collection. Last on center shelf, the later Monkey Bank with round coin trap and same coloring and operation as the other Monkey, last pictured in the 1954 Chein catalog.

Last, but certainly not least, as it is the most difficult Chein mechanical bank to obtain is the Church Bank. Pictured in color in the 1954 catalog and made somewhat prior and after this time, the operation is the same as the 2nd National Duck Bank, usual bright coloring in red, blue, orange, white, green, and gray-blue.

Well that’s pretty much the story on the Chein mechanicals. Their line of still banks was quite extensive and in 1931 included the Globe, Happy Days Barrel Bank, Scout Bank, Dime Register Bank, and Uncle Sam Register Bank, all these with key lock coin traps. In 1934 their greatest still bank, the Humpty Dumpty, was added to the line, along with the Drum Bank and Uncle Sam Hat Bank. As a matter of fact the 1934 catalog pictures these three in color with the large word "NEW" under each bank.

In 1938 they added the still Church Bank, Log Cabin Bank, and Cash Box Bank. Other still banks are Treasure Chest, 3 Little Pigs, World’s Fair, Philadelphia Athletic Baseball (a hard one to find), and Happy Days Cash Register. In 1959 their catalog pictures a Pail Bank with the name ‘Prosperity Bank’ thereon, along with a new Giant Globe Bank (6-1/2 inches high) and a Dime-A-Day Register Bank. They also made a Roly Poly Bank and several others.

In closing we would like to point out that the name Chein is usually mispronounced. It is pronounced properly as though spelled "chain." And last, but certainly not least, we would like to express our appreciation to R.A. Bekelman, Vice President of Chein, for his time and interest in the writer’s behalf in supplying him with factual information concerning the Chein Company and their line of toys and banks.


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