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The Bank of Education and Economy
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – March, 1992

      The subject of this month's article, represented in Figure I, most aptly fulfills the promise implied by its name. The "Bank of Education and Economy" undisputedly offers educational enrichment through the act of saving money. Unfortunately, the data imparted by this device warrants describing the bank as a fountain of obscure information.
     Contained within is a fairly large roll of paper, upon which are recorded countless questions, as well as quotations and their sources. The following is a sampling: Questions — "What do you consider the greatest work of Justin?"; "What made Archibald Forbes famous as a war correspondent?"; "Name some of the works of Rose Terry Cooke?" Quotations — "Happiness is the natural flower of duty" — Brooks. "The head ever the dupe of the heart" — La Rochefoucauld. "No possession can surpass, or even equal, a good library" — Langford, etc., etc., etc.
     The words "PATENTED APR-30-95" are cast into the front of the bank (Figure I). This facilitated the discovery of the patent information, shown in Figure II.' On April 30, 1895, Mr. James S. Barcus, of Chicago, Illinois, received a patent for his invention of a "coin controlled apparatus for advertising and educational systems." The words "MFG-BY PROCTOR-RAYMOND CO., Buffalo, N.Y." are cast into the underside of the base and aided in establishing the identity of the individuals, as well as the firm involved with the production of this mechanical.
     The advertisement shown in Figure III is copied from the 1896 Buffalo Business Directory.' It depicts the Proctor-Raymond Company as a firm that possessed the technology and capability of manufacturing a cast-iron bank, despite the fact that it had never advertised itself as an iron foundry.
     The "Bank of Education and Economy" is activated by the insertion of a dime (the only coin which can be utilized) within the coin slot atop the bank. This allows the depositor to rotate the round knob clockwise one turn. As the dime is deposited, a slip of paper with a question on one side and a quotation on the other emerges from the top of the bank. Deposited coins build neatly behind a small glass window in the front area of this mechanical. As the stack of coins increase, they raise a lever which extends through the top of the bank. In order to remove the deposits, the lever is manually depressed, releasing an internal spring device. This allows the small, sliding trap door underneath the base to be pushed aside, liberating the coins.
     There are no color variations of the "Bank of Education and Economy." However, there is one casting variant. This provides for a chuted-coin slot designed into the front of the bank.
     The mechanical pictured in Figure I is a delicately cast mass of graceful, free-flowing forms, swirls and curlicues, finely executed in cast iron and brightly nickel plated. I am not aware of any reproductions. Nevertheless, Figure IV is a base diagram indicating size and scale. If it were to be reproduced, more than likely it would appear approximately one-sixteenth of an inch smaller than indicated.
     The "Bank of Education and Economy" is extremely scarce. Combined with its simple, yet elegant, appearance and historical significance, it is a most attractive addition to a collection.
            *****
     1)   My thanks to Mr. Bernard H. Thomas, Technical Information Specialist at the Washington, D.C., Patent Of­fice for supplying the information shown in Figure II.
     2)   Ms. Mary F. Bell, Director of Library and Archives, Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, was most helpful in providing the advertisement shown in Fig­ure III.
     3)   The excellent example shown in Figure I is from the collection of the College Savings Bank, Princeton, New Jersey, Mr. Peter A. Roberts, Chairman.

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