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Mechanical Banks of Legend
Provenance and Value

by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine May, 2002 

     This section of my monthly article deviates from previous discussions. It is presented at this time to explain and clarify frequent, and perhaps confusing, usage of the term "provenance" when referring to a mechanical bank.
     On rare occasions a mechanical will attain so-called "legendary" status. Most often it is attributed to unusual quality of paint condition and/or unique coloration. In other instances, it is its discovery and/or former ownership by respected individual(s) that warrants its elevated status and, thus, the term "provenance".
     The association between particular persons and mechanicals is not surprising. The accumulation of banks spiraled upward during the 1920s and 1930s when the category was relatively new and undiscovered. Mint, or near-mint, examples were readily available to the knowledgeable and discriminating collector.
     When discussing this particular genre of mechanical, collectors precede the name of the bank by its original proprietor. Select examples include "The Squire Henry" 'Mikado Bank', "The Emerine" 'Breadwinners' Bank', "The Mosler" 'Magician Bank', "The Bill Norman" 'Cupola Bank', and "The Hegarty" 'White Hen and Chick Bank' (seen in Figure 1).
     Since I am not cognizant of all "Banks of Legend", I do apologize for the apparent "short list" of notables. Many others have possibly been omitted, and these may also reside in prestigious, legendary collections. On that note, I do encourage information from today's knowledgeable individuals.
     Indoctrination of mechanical banks into the "Legend Hall of Fame" continues to occur. Newly discovered, high quality, banks and their prestigious owners will continue to play an important role in the status of these unique mechanicals. In addition, examples that boast of respected provenance have, historically, commanded a grand premium when offered for sale.
     Who can argue with the valuation placed upon any item and its association? I can recollect the fervor created several years ago when a well-known auction gallery presented Dorothy's "Red Shoes". Worn in the Hollywood movie, "Wizard of Oz", this item achieved a selling price in the high six-figure range!
     In conclusion, legendary mechanical banks, just as legendary "any things", are what dreams and dollars are made of.

Eagle and Eaglets Bank
Part II, an update

by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine May, 2002

     Occasionally a unique and attractive color variation of a mechanical bank is brought to my attention. Recently, I was made aware of one such example, namely a white base "Eagle and Eaglets" (Figure 2).
     In my previous article pertaining to this mechanical, entitled "Eagle and Eaglets Bank" (Antique Toy World, August 1988), I stated there were only two known color variations relating to the base of the bank. One was painted light green with yellow and red highlights and the other, tan with yellow and green highlights. The excitement of discovering a third base variation appears worthy of this addendum.
     Figure 2 represents the white base variant. Interestingly, this particular color variation may, perhaps, characterize the nesting habits of the eagle more accurately than either of the aforementioned color schemes. Research indicates that eagles tend to build their nests high upon snowcapped mountain peaks.
     Awareness amongst the community of mechanical bank collectors of a rare color variation has sparked a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm. Its unique color may be traced back to trends at the time of manufacture. It appears that white was not a popular hue; early mechanical bank manufacturers understandably omitted it from their palette, opting for vibrant tones when applying the final paint finish to their wares. Therefore, when a white base "Eagle and Eaglets" mechanical bank does surface, it is greeted with enthusiasm. I am aware of only one other similar "white" example that has been discreetly "tucked away" for several years in a renowned collection.
     Other mechanical banks which sporadically exhibit "white" variations include "Hen and Chick Bank", "I Always Did 'Spise a Mule" jockey on bench, "Owl Turns Head", "Bulldog Bank" coin on nose, "Elephant and Three Clowns", "Indian and Bear Bank", and "Dog on Turntable". Owing to their rarity, these white variations do generally command a premium price amongst ardent collectors.
     Acknowledgement: The fine example of "Eagle and Eaglets Bank" (Figure 2) proudly nests in the collection of Greg Zemenick, M.D. (a.k.a. "Dr. Z").

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