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The Perfection Registering Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine April, 1986

     Toy savings banks are categorized as either still, mechanical, or registering. The subject of this article is a bank which fulfills the requirements of two of these categories. The Perfection Registering bank (Figure 1) is not only capable, through coin deposition, of activating the figures of the girl and her dog to perform a specific action, but also registers the total amount of the money which is deposited. These attributes qualify the bank to be classified as "mechanical-registering."
     On January 10, 1893, Charles A. Bailey, of Cromwell, Connecticut, assignor to the J. and E. Stevens Co., was granted Patent number 489,860 (Figure 2) for his design and invention of the Perfection Registering bank. On the underside of the base are the words, "PAT APLD FOR." Charles A. Bailey was probably the most prolific mechanical bank designer of all time. The Perfection Registering, as with most of his creations, bears his unmistakable touch designs incorporating graceful floral and leaf motifs. It appears as though Bailey was obsessed with the task of translating the flow of nature into the flow of molten metal.
     The action of the Perfection is extremely subtle. In order for the bank to operate, only dimes can be utilized. The dime is inserted into the slot atop the wall the little girl faces. The lever is then pressed downward. Simultaneously, the girl and her dog move backward one-sixteenth of an inch. her pointer registering the total amount of money inserted within the bank. When fifty dimes have been deposited, the girl and her dog reach the end of the bank. The dog then sits up, as if to beg. By pressing him down, a trap door at one end of the bank is released.
     There are neither casting nor color variations of the Perfection Registering bank. The colors of the one pictured in Figure 1 are as follows: the entire bank is painted a cream-tan color; the floral designs, the newspaper boy on the front, the soldier on the top, and the lion's head on the side are painted gold. The little girl has strawberry-blonde hair, black eyes, a white jacket, and an orange waist band. Her dog is white with black eyes and black spots. The platform is painted a dusty rose, and there is an orange flourish on the side wall which the girl faces. The paper label on the back wall is bluish-black with gold printing.
     There has been much speculation regarding the subject matter of the Perfection Registering bank. One hypothesis is that the popular children's classic by Frank Lyman Baum, The Wizard of Oz, was its inspiration. The reasoning behind this view revolves about the symbols which appear upon the bank. On the center of the front panel is the figure of a newspaper boy. During Baum's early years, he worked as an editor for a Midwestern newspaper. The figures of the little girl and her dog could possibly represent Dorothy and Toto of The Wizard of Oz, who, it may be conjectured, stand upon a section of the bank which has a pattern of rectangles cast into it the yellow brick road??? And, finally, the face of a lion is cast into the right end of the bank, which may possibly be none other than that of the lion in search of courage from the book of Oz. However, the bank was manufactured seven years before The Wizard of Oz was first published, so it seems quite unlikely that it was based upon Baum's story. As stated earlier, the comparisons are merely speculative - and, perhaps, add a bit of intrigue as the collector attempts to discover the source of inspiration.
     The Perfection Registering bank is considered to be quite rare. This may possibly be attributed to fewer banks having been purchased due to the relatively exorbitant amount of money necessary to operate it (ten cents per deposit might have been more than many could afford at a time when earnings amounted to merely ten cents per day.) Another possible explanation for the bank's rarity today might be its fragile design. Not only were there many vulnerable parts that could easily be damaged, but if one desired to remove the coins before the proper number of dimes were deposited, the bank had to be pried open by breaking off the end door, causing irreparable damage.
     The Perfection Registering's charming and attractive appearance, coupled with its rarity, have encouraged its reproduction. Some were recast from actual factory patterns, making detection difficult. To add insult to injury, several years ago an unscrupulous dealer also counterfeited the paper labels. When these bogus labels were affixed to the recast bank, detection became that much more difficult. A true test of this bank's authenticity (as well as any other bank) lies in the quality of its paint. The texture, crazing, and patina of an antique bank are virtually impossible to duplicate.
     I am including a base diagram of the Perfection Registering bank for size and scale only (Figure 3). Please be advised that, because many of these banks were recast from original patterns, they will correspond precisely with the size indicated on the base diagram. Those reproductions which were cast from original production banks will appear approximately one-sixteenth of an inch shorter in length than indicated on the diagram. This is due to the shrinkage of the cast iron as it cools in the mold.
     CORRECTION: (from June, 1986) In the article entitled, "The Perfection Registering Bank, " Antique Toy World April, 1986, it was erroneously stated that the photo of the bank in Figure 1 was "actual size. " The actual bank, in fact, is smaller than indicated by the photo. Please refer to the base diagram for the correct size. The editor of this publication apologizes for the error.

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