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GRAMERCY GRAPHIC Magazine — date unknown

The Bank for Savings Exhibits
Ferguson Mechanical Banks

William F. Ferguson, formerly vice president of The Bank for Savings, 280 Forth Avenue, now retired, collected mechanical coin banks over a period of eight years. Much of his collection is now in the possession of the Bank, and some items have been on display recently in the main banking room. In our last issue, Mr. Ferguson, who now lives in New Rochelle, told how he came to collect these interesting relics of the past, and he describes some of the mechanical marvels that have come into his possession. His reminiscences continue

It was felt in the ’70’s that mechanical banks would be exciting and at the same time encourage thrift. The idea proved very successful and the more the action the greater the sales, and for longer periods. Along in the nineties the demand began to turn to other playthings. New banks that came out lagged in sales. Thus the date of a bank has little to do with value, in most cases. Of course there are exceptions, for example, an early bank put out by an obscure maker without proper sales connections, or a poor idea of what the public would like, in action, and so on.

The collection owned by The Bank for Savings was selected, not for rarity, but as banks having plenty of action and representing animals mostly, to interest the younger depositors. They happen to run mostly to designs patented in the 1880’s. There are animal banks, such as the "Bulldog Bank," — a dog sitting on a box; you balance a coin on his nose, then pull his tail; his big jay opens and the coin drops off his nose into his mouth and down into the box. The girls seemed to be more interested in the "Eagle and Eaglets" bank. The eagle stands by nest with coin in her mouth; press the lever and she dips down to feed her three little eaglets, spreading her wings at the same time; the eaglets lift their heads towards mother, with a little squeak (from a bellows inside) as mother opens mouth and drops the coin, which drops into the bank part.

Next would be games, such as the "Calamity" bank. Three football players — which run into each other, and "Darktown Battery," three negroes playing ball, one pitching the coin to the catcher. The batter takes a mighty swing and misses. The catcher moves his arms, but misses, and coin goes through his chest protector and down into the bank. Among banks representing the circus, such as "Acrobats." "Lion and Monkeys" and so on, is an interesting "Boy on the Trapeze." So called

Boy on trapeze: A penny placed in a dent in his cap will be enough weight to cause him to do one turn around, the penny dropping into bank when his head is down. The makers claimed that a nickel would make him turn twice, and a quarter, three times. But he doesn’t, and you are out your nickel or quarter.

War is another classification. For instance the "Artillery" bank represents a soldier standing by a cannon pointed at a fort; he soldier raises his hand and the cannon fires a coin right into the fort, at the same time the cannon explodes a paper cap with a big bang. Another cap firer is the "Creedmore" (the name of an old time rifle range on Long Island, used by guardsmen); a soldier with gun to shoulder fires a paper cap and shoots the coin through a target on a tree.

"William Tell" with another paper cap exploding, shoots the apple right off his son’s head with a coin which lands in the castle behind the boy and rings a bell. "Uncle Sam" just drops a coin into his carpet bag and wags his chin whiskers.

President "Teddy" Roosevelt was featured in 1907 by a bank portraying him in a hunting costume shooting a coin into a tree stump (with the usual explosion) and out pops a bear from the stump. This bank, "Teddy and the Bear," although a late one, was very popular, therefore still fairly common.

Finally, a bank with a moral: "Boy Robbing Bird’s Nest." The boy is out on the limb reaching toward the nest; press the lever and the branch breaks; falling, it knocks the coin into the tree trunk. All these banks, and more, are often displayed at The Bank for Savings.


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