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The Detection of
Mechanical Bank Reproductions
(Part III)

by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – January, 1994

      My preceding two articles concerned themselves with the comparison of an original antique mechanical bank to one that had been reproduced. This month's topic will deal with the manufacturers of those reproductions.
     Possibly, the most easily recognizable of the "legitimate" reproductions (i.e., those created with no intention to fool collectors) are those banks recast from the "Book of Knowledge Collection." This series was initially produced by the Grey Iron Casting Com­pany, of Mount Joy, Pa., during the early 1950s (Figure I). It includes 30 recasts of original antique mechanical banks, namely: "Artillery"; "Dentist"; "Paddy and the Pig"; "Bull Dog Bank"; "Tammany"; "Magician"; "Kicking Cow"; "Jonah and the Whale"; "Bucking Buffalo"; "U.S. and Spain"; "Eagle and Eaglets"; "Creedmoor"; "Trick Pony"; "William Tell"; "Always Did 'Spise a Mule"; "Humpty Dumpty"; "Leap Frog"; "Owl Turns Head"; Spise a Mule, Jockey Over"; "World's Fair"; "Punch and Judy"; "Cabin"; "Uncle Remus"; "Organ, Boy and Girl"; "Hometown Battery"; "Indian and Bear"; "Cat and Mouse"; "Teddy and the Bear"; "Uncle Sam"; and "Boy on Trapeze."
     During the late 1960s, Donald Smith of the Riverside Foundry in Wrightsville, Pa., assumed production of the "Book of Knowledge" banks. He marketed these under his "John Wright" line of toys and novelties (Figure II).
     Also occurring during these years was the manufacture of 11 additional reproductions of antique mechanicals. These represented examples from the "James D. Capron Collection" (Figure III) and included: "Hubley Trick Dog," "Bad Accident," "Mule Entering Barn," "Clown on Globe," "Horse Race," "Lion and Monkeys," "Professor Pug Frog," "Two Frogs," "Hubley Monkey Bank," "Magic Bank," and "Hubley Trick Elephant."
     Both "Book of Knowledge" and "James D. Capron" banks have been clearly identified under their bases, and present no problems in detection. In addition, as described in my previous articles, all have crude, pebbly surfaces. Their seams are ill-fitted and they are painted in basic primary colors. And, most importantly, each is one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch shorter along the base than its antique counterpart.
     In conclusion, I suggest the novice antique mechanical bank collector exercise caution when contemplating a purchase. A great number of these reproductions may appear aged and even rusted, thereby impersonating an old, original mechanical. Careful scrutiny, however, will reveal its true identity.
     Coincidentally, and quite timely to this writing, is the publication of a book written by Robert L. McCumber. Entitled "Mechanical and Still Bank Reproductions," it presents a brief, illustrated history of the several contemporary iron foundries engaged in the manufacture of mechanical bank reproductions. For further information, or to order a copy, write: Robert L. McCumber, 201 Carriage Drive, Glastonbury, CT 06033.

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