Fun-Producing Savings Banks
Well, at long last, we can finally pass along information on a very interesting mechanical bank that could be just as well described as a "new find." It really isnt, however, since a few people (including the writer who has known of its existence for some years) have known of the bank in the past couple of years. Actually, the Fun Producing Bank, No. 205, in the numerical classification stayed pretty much under wraps (including a long stay in a bushel basket) for years in an old house in Adamsburg, Pa., in the possession of Squire Walter J. Henry.
The late Squire Henry was a very interesting man and in years of collecting he acquired a variety of fine antiques including a great collection of occupational shaving mugs, some fine cast iron toys, and a collection of mechanical banks. Included in the mechanical banks was an outstanding example of the Mikado and the very rare little scale bank we now have under discussion. This scale bank, particularly in the last couple of years, attained a degree of charisma since, when a few others learned of its existence, naturally the desire to own one increased and it became a subject of discussion, word passed around, and so on.
In any case, the Henry sales (a series of auctions) started three years ago, 1971 being the third year. They went on at regular intervals beginning in the summer of 1969, then continuing the summer of 1970. None were held during the summer of 1971 largely due to the Pittsburgh newspaper strike and the fact the sales could not be advertised therein. The auctions then resumed in the fall of 1971 mainly advertised, however, by distribution of circulars. Then due to the unfortunate and untimely death of Squire Henry it was decided that all remaining items would be sold. This now brings us up to date, and to the Fun Producing Savings Bank sold at auction a few weeks ago and finally pictured herewith. No one was ever permitted to photograph the bank prior to its sale and it is the only bank in the writers new book where it is necessary to use an original old catalog picture.
The Silver-Mirror Company of Chicago, Ill., was responsible for the Fun Producing Savings Bank. This company started in business February 2, 1914, for the purpose of selling premiums and give-aways by mail. The company went out of existence October 9, 1943. In a necessarily, somewhat limited way, former members of the company were contacted with no particular results in any specifics concerning the background of the bank under discussion. The firm had many products and lack of information with respect to the scale bank, one of their earlier items, is understandable under the circumstances.
Considerable help is offered by a Butler Bros. Catalog for 1918 which pictures this bank and offers it at 95c a dozen, packed one dozen to a box. The picture that appears in this catalog is completely accurate, depicts the bank just like it is, and it is the one the writer used in his new book on mechanical banks.
Figure 1 shows the bank ready for operation and Figure 2 after the action. The bank is set for operation by moving the small lever down into position as shown in Figure 1. This lever is shown in the up position after the action in Figure 2. The mechanism is activated by placing a penny in the provided slot in the top of the scale. As shown in Figure 1, the wording "Your Correct Weight" appears in a section of the upper part of the dial or face of the scale. When the coin is inserted into the slot this wording changes automatically and now reads "You Are Just One Cent Lighter" as shown in Figure 2. The wording is reset by means of the lever after each operation of the bank (pushed into the down position). Coins accumulate in the base and eventually fill up the column through which they fall. A clever, quite different mechanical bank.
Other wording appearing on the bank and shown in both photos: On the dial "One Cent Platform Scales Company;" on the front of the base "Guess Your Weight Get Your Money Back." The underside of the base is particularly interesting and the following appears thereon: "Fun Producing Savings Bank" Price 15 cents The Silver-Mirror Company, Inc., 123 W. Madison St., Chicago, Ill."
The bank is an overall green. With one exception all lettering is in black on white backgrounds. The one exception is the white wording "You Are Just One Cent Lighter" on a black background.
By far the greater percentage of the cast iron mechanicals were made in the United States. Not so with the tin mechanicals the greater percentage of these are foreign, mainly Germany and some England. So it is nice, in this case The Fun Producing Savings Bank, to add another American made tin mechanical to this fine group of banks.