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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 this addendum.
     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.
     My 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 costly mistake.
     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.

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