|THE HOBBY DIGEST, July 1967, Page 4
OLD PENNY BANKS PAY OFF IN GOLD
Despite the fact that
a penny will get you almost nothing these days — or perhaps because of it —
penny banks have suddenly staged a resounding comeback.
You can pay up to $1000 for antique
trick performers, or get a new one for practically nothing at national
savings banks which are displaying valuable collections of mechanical banks
to lure the thrift-minded small fry inside.
Collecting antique penny banks has
become a passion for millionaires and house fraus alike. Tycoons of industry
have been know to sit on the floor for hours, playing with their penny bank
finds, and sometimes all but coming to blows over the possession of rare
One of the largest private
collections of mechanical do-a-stunt banks has been amassed by Samuel F.
Pryor, executive vice president of Pan American Airways.
AN AVID COLLECTOR
Sam, a guy who also collects dolls, once made the
mistake of introducing automotive tycoon Walter Chrysler to the fascinating
hobby of penny banks, He has since had reason to regret his impulse.
Chrysler became such an avid collector that before his death he had
practically cornered the market.
"Walter drove the price of penny banks sky
high," Pryor mused. "and it's never come down since."
Pryor, who began his collecting in 1926,
houses his 800-odd banks at his Greenwich, Conn., estate which also boasts
the world's largest doll collection. His initial investment was
infinitesimal. For practically nothing he bought 30 penny banks from O. J.
Beirly in Wilkinsburg, Pa., with a promise to add to the collection.
The promise was easy to keep. In those days he
could pick up a complicated cast-iron bank which performed a series of
tricks for only a dollar or two
TIMES HAVE CHANGED—
But how times have changed! A Victorian chair
bank with performing dog, for which Sam paid $2.50 and later sold to
Chrysler for $300 and later resold for $750.
To the modern child, a coin bank is usually a
heartless pig which swallows a coin and refuses to disgorge its treasure
until its body if full.
This is a far cry from the delightful trick banks
of the 19th century, which encouraged thrift by performing enchanting stunts
for each penny deposited.
Among the banks which Pryor has unearthed from
attics and cellars are treasures known in the collectors' trade by such
names as "Always Did 'Spise a Mule," "Boy Stealing Watermelons," "Girl
Skipping Rope," "Pig in High Chair," "Dog Snapping," and "Paddy and His
All do fascinating antics. For instance, when a
penny is dropped into the "Girl in Victorian Chair," a little dog on her lap
moves forward and licks her face. A coin inserted in the "Milking Cow" also
stirs up exciting action. The cow becomes fractious, kicks out her hind leg
and upsets the little boy who is milking her.
Pryor smiles remembering the time he gave his
wife the dickens for paying $50 for an antique bank called "Girl Skipping
Rope." Later he sold it at a nice profit to Chrysler, and a new owner has
now paid $800 for it.