The Tin Scotsman Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – October, 1997
Valiant and proud is the image of the Scottish
Highlander. In sharp contrast is the figure depicted upon the subject of
this month's article. As seen in Figure I, the tartan-clad individual
appearing upon the facade of the tin "Scotsman Bank" is represented as a
To date, only two different antique mechanical banks utilizing the
image of the
clansman are known to exist. One of these is the aforementioned tin
"Scotsman Bank," and the other is the cast-iron "Kiltie Bank" seen in
Figure II (refer to Antique Toy World,
July 1996). The "Kiltie Bank,"
however, presents a dignified and stoic image of the Highlander.
Interestingly, the tin "Scotsman Bank" identifies a rather obscure
and seldom-discussed aspect of Highlander garb, namely the sporran. This
particular accessory is worn around the waist and rests upon the center of
the kilt. It is a small, furry or hairy pouch typically made of either
badger or goat skin and fastened by a metal clasp.
Activation of the "Scotsman Bank" is wholly dependent upon the jolly
chap's sporran, as is indicated by the verse imprinted upon the face of
the bank: "Lift my sporran lightly — On my tongue a penny — If ye do this
nightly — Ye'll soon ha'e many." Lifting the Scotsman's sporran results in
blinking eyes and protrusion of his tongue, upon which a coin is then
positioned. The depositor lightly presses the sporran back into place,
whereupon the eyes blink once again and the tongue with coin recedes into
the mouth. Monies are recovered by unlocking a key-lock, trap-door-type
coin retainer underneath the base.
There are two variations of the tin "Scotsman Bank." These pertain
solely to the lithography on the front of the mechanical. One incorporates
the operating instructions verse within the design (Figure I), and the
other omits it completely.
A rare, early 20th-century Saalheimer and Strauss catalog page is
seen in Figure III. In it are featured the tin "Scotsman Bank" and several
other mechanicals in the company's line. Located in Nurnberg, Germany, the
hub of early European tinplate toy production, Saalheimer and Strauss was
one of the most important German manufacturers of tin novelty items,
children's playthings, household goods, and mechanical banks.
The unearthing of this catalog page, which occurred approximately 15
years ago, was fortunate since it provided information on several tin
German mechanical banks whose manufacturer had heretofore been an enigma.
This discovery and subsequent research efforts identified the "SS" logo
(to the right side of the Scotsman's walking stick) as that of the
Saalheimer and Strauss Company.
To date, no patent papers have been located relating to either the
design or workings of the "Scotsman Bank." However, a similar bank in the
"SS" line had received Deutsches - Patent Number L-698681 on June 29, 1928
(see Figure III, top row, center). It is presently assumed that, due to
the great similarities between the configuration and action of both the
tin "Minstrel Bank" and the tin "Scotsman Bank," each was protected under
the same patent.
Unfortunately, the popularity of German tin mechanical banks has
waned over the past few years. Yet I am confident that renewed
appreciation of their design, form, action, and scarcity will help them to
regain their rightful place in mechanical bank collections.
The following dimensions are provided as an aid to collectors in
determining size and scale of the "Scotsman Bank": 6-7/8 inches in height,
and 2-7/8 inches in width.
Acknowledgment: The superb example of the tin "Scotsman Bank" (Figure
I) is from the collection of Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck.
Correction and addendum: Refer to Antique Toy World,
1997: "THE FREEDMAN'S BUREAU." Fellow collector William Werbell has been
kind enough to send me a copy of an original label affixed to his example
of this mechanical bank. The label identifies the bank as "THE FREEDMEN'S
BUREAU," thereby correcting my spelling. In addition, the label identifies
the manufacturer of the bank. It reads: "FREEDMEN'S BUREAU, MANUFACTURED
BY F.L. CHILDS CO., SPRINGFIELD, MASS. PATENT AFPLIED FOR."