|MOBIL WORLD, April 1969
Annuitant Banks on
Bert Whiting shows his mechanical bank,
"Jonah and the Whale on a Pedestal."
WAKEFIELD, Mass. — People looking for a bank in this small New England town
aren't always in search of the Chase Manhattan variety. They may be
collectors of toy banks looking for 40 Friend Street, the home of annuitant
Hubert B. Whiting, former New England Marketing Division operating Manager.
He's got banks — more than 700 of
them. Collecting the cast iron penny banks has been Mr. Whiting's hobby
"I was passing by an antique shop
when I saw a bank just like one I had as a child," he explains. "That
starrtled me. I was intrigued by the fine detail and excellent workmanship
that went into its manufacture. So, although they were originally designed
as toys that tought thrift, I don't collect the banks as toys. Rather, to me
they are 'Americana', and first-class examples of craftsmanship.
"They can't properly be classified as
antiques, either," he adds, "since most of them were made during the period
Portions of Mr. Whiting's collection
have been exhibited at various collectors' conventions, and many members of
the Toy Collectors of America, have come to his Wakefield home to see his
Mr. Whiting recently made it easier
for most of them. He published a book, Old Iron Still Banks,
describing and evaluating most of his collection. He has had requests for
the book from people in every state in the Union and even from as far away
as Scotland. The 44-page manual contains full-color pictures of more than
450 banks, from the plain old piggy bank of everyone's childhood, to Mr.
Whiting's favorite, a finely detailed bank called "Bear Stealing Pig."
"The evaluations are my own," Mr.
Whiting says. "I rated each of the banks in the book according to
desirability, rarity and attractiveness. I didn't try to classify them to
value, because values change too rapidly to have meaning to a collector for
The most valuable bank Mr. Whiting
has is not even in the book. It's a mechanical bank, "Jonah and the Whale on
"I obtained it from a retired
Salvation Army major," he says, "whose children played with it for many
years. It still works, though."
Mr. Whiting gives much of the credit
for the size of his collection, and for his book, to his wife, Gwladys.
She's been very patient and tolerant
of my whims," he says, "and she was the one who encouraged me to put the
leisure time I have had since retiring to good use. Believe me," he adds,
"it keeps me busy, and being busy sure beats sitting in front of the TV set
Mr. Whiting has been keeping busy
since joining the company in 1932 as a service station attendant in
Springfield, Mass. Subsequent positions included draftsman in Albany, N.Y.,
field engineer in New Haven, Conn., division engineer for the New York
Division, and field operating supervisor in Baltimore. He became operating
manager in the New England Division in 1958, retiring on Jan. 1, 1968.