The World’s Fair Bank
The Charles A. Bailey Hand Painted Version
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – November, 1997
My article this month is an update to the one
which was published in the
February 1989 issue of Antique Toy World,
namely "The World's Fair Bank." At that time, limitations existed which
precluded showing full-color photographs of an original Charles A. Bailey
hand painted mechanical. However, obstacles have been removed, prompting
The "World's Fair Bank," manufactured by the J. and E. Stevens
Company, of Cromwell, Conn., was produced in two casting variations. One
version displays the title in bold, raised block letters across its side,
while the other omits it entirely. An obvious explanation is that those
banks which bear the name "World's Fair Bank" were sold during the
Columbus World's Fair Exposition, i.e., 1892-1893 (Figure I). When the
Fair ended, the J. and E. Stevens Company continued to market this
mechanical but with a change in name to "Columbus Bank" (Figure II), thus
necessitating the deletion of its former title from the casting.
February 1989 article also mentioned that the "World's Fair Bank"
was painted an overall gold, highlighted in copper-bronze, silver, and
silver with a greenish tinge. It had come to my attention that there are a
few banks in existence which are multicolored (refer to Figures III and
IV, which display both sides of the same example bank). These were
personally painted by their inventor, the eminent toy and bank designer
Mr. Charles A. Bailey of Cromwell, Conn. Bailey created these hand painted
examples as special-occasion presentation pieces intended for family and
close friends. Understandably, in the present mechanical bank market,
these personalized specimens command a significantly higher price than the
more common, but nonetheless desirable, gold-painted version.
Over the years, several examples of "World's Fair Bank" have
surfaced, each fraudulently painted in the polychromatic "Bailey manner"
and each representing itself as an original Bailey example. The color
photographs (Figures III and IV) should be helpful to collectors in acting
as a guide for comparison. The principle objective is prevention of a
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The superb, all-original "World's Fair Bank,"
personally painted by Charles A. Bailey (Figures III and IV), is from the
collection of Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck.