|Tyrone Daily Herald, May 24, 1966
JOHN D. MEYER: HE
CAN BANK ON HIS
By Sue Hoover
Herald Staff Writer
"These are the rarest banks IO have in
my collection," Mr. Meyer explained as he pointed to the top shelf. The Baby
Elephant bank on the left is the only one known today. Beside it is the Red
Riding Hood bank, the Freedman's bank (one of three known), Girl in
Victorian Chair bank and the Girl Jumping Rope bank.
--Daily Herald Photo
There's one man
in town who has a collection he can bank on!
There are hundreds of antique penny banks lining the
walls of John D. Meyer's home to back up that statement.
"Almost every one of these banks represents a trip,"
the 92-year-old gentleman explained as he walked through his home pointing
out the ones he liked best to a Daily Herald staff writer.
He stopped beside a group of five banks and said,
"These are my favorites."
One of them, the Baby Elephant Bank, is believed to be
the only one in existence today. It is the most valued bank in his
"The Freedman's Bank is also prized by collectors," Mr.
Meyer pointed out, "and it is believed that only three or four of these
He went on to say that the bank was made in Boston,
probably soon after the Civil War. The price at that time was $5.50 and few
people bought them because they were so expensive.
More of Mr. Meyer's ruby glass, some of
his clocks and his very own penny bank are shown in this photo. The bank,
which he is holding, was given to him by an uncle when he was four.
--Daily Herald Photo
ORIGINAL PENNY BANK
Mr. Meyer is perhaps the only collector who has his own
first penny bank. It was given to him by his uncle when he was
This bank, like many others, represents a period of
history - the reign of political tyrant Boss Tweed and his associates in
Tammany Hall, New York.
When a penny is placed in the hand of the little fat
man sitting in an over-stuffed chair, he nods his head gratefully and puts
the penny in his pocket.
Mr. Meyer explained that "though this is one of the commonest
banks to collectors today, it is one which I prize very highly."
He keeps the bank under a glass dome so it is well
protected. It appears to be in perfect condition, though it has been used by
Mr. Meyer, his niece and her three daughters.
Mr. Meyer, who is widely-known in banking and
collecting circles in the state, has written a book which set up uniform
standards for identifying almost 250 banks.
"A Handbook of Old Mechanical Penny Banks" established
the system by which dealers and collectors describe banks. The "Meyer
Number" is often used to identify a bank.
"I have all bet about 20 of the banks listed in the
book," Mr. Meyer said.
Along with his mechanical banks, the collector has
hundreds of glass, wood, tin, pottery and iron banks. These are referred to
as "still" banks.
Though he is well-known for his collection of banks,
Mr. Meyer has other collections which he enjoys sharing with others.
He started searching for these things about 30 years
ago because, as he explained, I liked old things and just started to collect
His other collections include some 60 intricately
constructed, old-fashioned clocks and a ruby and coin glass collection.
"This clock," he said as he pointed to a time piece
with a prominent position in one of the rooms "belonged to my grandfather
and has been in the family since 1832 - long before I was born."
Mr. Meyer was born on August 4, q874, in Centre Hall,
the son of David J. and Eliza Jane Meyer. He attended public schools there
and, in 1897, graduated from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster.
By the way," he added, "all my banks have been given to
the college, where I am a member of the Board of Trustees."
This active gentleman also serves on the Board of
Trustees of Hood College. He is on the Board of Directors of the Tyrone YMCA
and has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce for 40 years.
He served as vice-president and president of the First
Blair County National Bank until he retired in January, 1964. He is still a
member of the bank Board of Directors.
As he turned from his clocks to the glass collections,
Mr. Meyer said "My United States Coin Glass is among the rarest designs."
He explained that it was made for only six months in
1892 to commemorate the establishment of the U.S. Bank and Mint.
"The craftsmen were forced to stop making it, however,"
the gentleman explained, "when the federal government intervened because
even the reproduction of money in glass is a form of counterfeiting."
Along with the coin glass, Mr. Meyer has a collection
of ruby glass.
He said that this glass was not very rare or expensive
at first and much was given away or sold as souvenirs in amusement parks and
"This is one of the most prized pieces in my glass
collection," Mr. Meyer added as he held up a spooner of a combination of
coin glass and ruby glass.
Mr. Meyer is shown here with his
favorite music box. It was made in 1885 and has Swiss works. "It's my
favorite because the tones are so beautiful," the collector pointed out.
--Daily Herald Photo
Mr. Meyer has gained recognition through his
collections as well as through his banking activities and membership in the
50-Year Club of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association.
When asked what he feels was one of the most memorable
things that has happened to him, the gentleman replied, "It doesn't have
anything to do with my collections or with banking. Back in 1957, during the
Tyrone centennial, I was named the "Oldest Youth in Town" and lead the Youth
Day parade. That was one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me."
Mr. Meyer will celebrate his 92nd birthday in August,
and, with his many community and civic activities as well as the work with
his collections to keep him busy, John D. Meyer will probably remain
Tyrone's "oldest youth" for many more years.