Pattern Recasts Part I
Some years ago original patterns of certain mechanical banks came on the market and they were sold to a variety of individuals in limited quantities. These patterns for the most part were assembled into complete banks. The unfortunate part being that some of them went into the hands of persons who misused them. That is to say, they cast banks from the patterns and sold them as original mechanical banks. In some cases, as with the Harlequin, they were sold as so-called second casting, a worthless designation. It bears mention that this activity is still going on today and persons involved have gotten into rusting parts, antiquing paint, and so on to add legitimacy to their recast banks. The mechanicals that are cast from the patterns are much more difficult to identify than those cast from the banks themselves, and this is where the rub lies since many collectors have been fooled by these pattern cast banks.
Lets take a moment to explain that a bank cast from a pattern comes out to size properly as an original bank that was made years ago from the same pattern. Also, a smoother casting is obtained where a pattern is used. This having to do, of course, with a number of factors involving the sand used and so on. These pattern recast banks then, where paint is antiqued and other things done, do make it difficult for the average collector, and even some of the more experienced advanced collectors, to identify them for what they are a recast bank.
This pattern situation is fortunately not a wide spread thing, just certain Stevens banks. Unfortunately, however, including some common banks, there are some rare banks involved such as the Harlequin, North Pole, Billy Goat Bank, Perfection Registering, Shoot The Chutes and a number of others.
All this came about in this fashion. Prior to World War II, J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut had many of their original patterns stored in a certain building used for this purpose. After all, they made mechanical banks until the late 1920s, so there was still activity in using the patterns till the near 1930s. Over the years, starting in the 1870s as a mechanical bank was taken out of production, the patterns were stored in the building that served this purpose. There was always the chance that any certain bank might go back into production again for one reason or the other. Then, too, they even had some wooden mechanical bank patterns stored in another building. As explanation, many mechanical banks in the earlier days were first carved in wood, then made in lead, then into brass and master patterns in bronze. Some mechanical banks existed there, stored away, in all these stages. Of course, the bronze patterns are the ones we are dealing with presently. In any case, these patterns stayed pretty much untouched over a number of years from the late 1920s on, and then along came World War II and the picture changed. A lot of patterns were sold and melted up for their metal content. A number, however, escaped this fate, and these are the ones to be concerned about in the cases where they have been misused.
Now to another facet of this rather involved situation. In addition to the patterns at Stevens, many original mechanical bank cast iron parts were on hand there and just sat around for years in barrels and other containers. There wasnt any great order or continuity to it. In any case, a few years after World War II is when some of the cast iron parts really started getting around, along with the remaining patterns. There were in some instances complete cast iron parts of a mechanical bank, so that, as with the patterns, they could be assembled into a complete bank. In the main, however, the original cast iron parts were of various banks and not complete banks. For example, prior to World War II, there were a few complete Buster Brown sleds found for the Shoot The Chute Bank. These were, of course, authentic complete sleds and original in all parts and assembled as a unit. This was an exception, not the rule, as, to repeat, most were original cast iron parts of various different banks, not assembled and more or less scattered around the buildings of the plant. Many of these parts eventually wound up in the hands of legitimate repair service individuals and they were not abused they were properly used (and are still being so) to repair banks where original parts could be used to replace broken or missing parts of original banks.