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Santa Phone Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - May, 1978

78-05.JPG (17593 bytes)

Believe it or not we have another great find to report in a previously unknown battery operated mechanical bank. This, the Santa Phone Bank, like the Witch Fortune Teller, has really great action; and, of course, the subject matter, Santa Claus, is highly desirable. While the bank is in the category of a new find, it is not a new item just out for sale. The original box the bank was found in shows evidence of some age, and the bank itself, while in new mint condition, is not new in appearance per se. This, then, like many of the battery operated toys and banks, will be difficult to pin down to the exact year in which it was made. There are no dates or patent numbers on the box or the bank to help ascertain its age. Sufficient to say at this time it is in the modern group of the mechanicals (after 1935) and likely made in the 1950’s to early 1960’s. It is of Japanese manufacture.

The bank consists of Santa Claus seated at a desk holding a pen in his right hand and telephone in his left. Attached to this unit by wiring is another unit representing a dial type pay phone. Under each of the ten holes in the dial appears a single letter, the combination of which spell ‘SANTA CLAUS’ in large red capital letters. On the front top of the phone box appears in white capital lettering ‘DEPOSIT A PENNY TO CALL SANTA PLACE YOUR CHRISTMAS ORDER’. On the left side of the box, also in white capital letters, is ‘SAVE YOUR PENNY FOR CHRISTMAS CHEER’. On the desk, in addition to the telephone, there is a standing name plate, a paper Christmas card, and representations of note paper with writing thereon, this under the pen held by Santa.

The colors of the bank are as follows: The pay phone unit is all red with a white knob on the front coin trap and white under dial circle. Santa wears a fine heavy cloth red-maroon velvet suit and hat with white fur cuffs, hat trim, and tassel. His face is typical Santa Claus with high coloring and white beard and mustache. The phone is red and the pen is blue. The paper Christmas card is white with holly trim, the desk is silver with white and gray outlining of panels, the loop decoration is in red and green. On the left side of the desk Santa’s bag is shown with various toys in red, green, black, white, yellow and brown. On the right side of the desk a bright green Christmas tree appears trimmed with ornaments and candy canes in red, white and yellow. His chair has green sides and a green cloth back. A white base completes the coloring of a most attractive bank. The bank by the way, is mainly metal, tin, with a couple of plastic parts, the receiver on the pay phone and the phone Santa uses. And, of course, Santa’s cloth clothing and cotton beard.

To operate the bank, two batteries must be inserted in the provided section on the underside of the desk. The receiver on the pay phone is then lifted from the hook and a coin is placed in the provided top section slot — the coin stays in place with the hook in the up position. The letters of Santa Claus are then dialed on the pay phone. As this is being done, the phone on Santa’s desk rings and he lifts the receiver to his left ear. He then moves his head back and forward and moves his right hand as though writing. As the phone rings the name plate on the desk lights up and the name ‘KRIS KRINGLE’ appears. Also the paper card lights up and ‘MERRY XMAS’ appears on the card. The action as described takes place for a timed period and Santa then places the receiver on the phone and the mechanism stops automatically. When the receiver on the pay phone is placed on the hook, the coin drops inside the unit. A really great modern category mechanical bank with wonderful action. The bank will not operate unless a coin is used as described.

Larry Eisenstein of Jackson Heights, New York, found this bank in the original box under unusual circumstances in the 1977 Christmas period. He deserves due recognition for this unique interesting find and the timing couldn’t have been more appropriate.


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