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Saalheimer and Strauss of Nuremberg, Germany
Two Salesmen’s Flyers

by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – December, 1989

      The era of Mechanical bank production, known as the "Golden Age," was a period of time in which sev­eral major manufacturers flourished, both in the United States and abroad. During those years, which encompassed the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a wealth of cast-iron and tin gems emerged to delight children with their message of "penny saved, penny earned."
     Most major mechanical-bank-producing countries (i.e., United States, Canada and Great Britain) had retained their patent files, enabling dissemination of pertinent data relative to dates of production, inventors, manufacturers, etc. It is unfortunate, however, that patent laws governing mechanical banks invented in Germany during that period were responsible for the total lack of information available from that country. Those laws stipulated that patents which contributed little, or nothing, to industry or society be designated as Reichsgebrachsmuster, or, "small, insignificant patents." These were filed for a period of fifteen years and then routinely discarded, thus depriving those patented objects of a heritage.
     It is precisely because of this practice that the serious bank collector is pleased when factual information pertaining to these German banks surfaces. Establishment of time and place are important revelations when there is little or no known documentation.
     Recently, two rare, early salesmen's sample flyers from the Saalheimer and Strauss Toy Company*, of Nurnberg, Germany (Figures I and II), have been discovered. These have shed new light on several tin mechanical banks which previously were only presumed to have been produced by that manufacturer. They are: Tin Scotsman, Tin Bonzo, Jolly Joe the Clown, Harold Lloyd, British Lion, Saluting Sailor and Clever Dick. Because of similarity in design, configuration and mechanics to the banks illustrated, this writer feels the following may also be the products of Saalheimer and Strauss: Mickey Mouse, Tin Tiger, Tin English Bulldog, Tin Teddy Bear, African Na­tive and Clown and Dog and Monkey and Parrot. Several years ago, patent papers were located for the Tin Minstrel (See Figure I) and the Tin Sentry (Figure II), thereby offering indisputable proof that these banks were also products of Saalheimer and Strauss.
     It is interesting to note the importance many mechanical bank collectors are now placing on ephemera, such as Figures I and II, which relate to antique banks and their manufacturers. Previously considered valuable only to the historian, collectors have begun to pursue them with intensity. Many such pieces command a higher price than those objects they characterize!
     The Saalheimer and Strauss Company was engaged in the manufacture of tinplate toys and mechanical banks from 1928 to 1936, at which time production ceased and business was terminated.

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