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Tyrone Daily Herald, May 24, 1966


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 collection,
     "The Freedman's Bank is also prized by collectors," Mr. Meyer pointed out, "and it is believed that only three or four of these exist today."
     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 four-years-old.
     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.
                                       OTHER COLLECTIONS
     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 them."
     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.
                                        GLASS COLLECTIONS
     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 tourist attractions.
     "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

                                       MEMORABLE OCCASION
     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.

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