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Sweet Thrift Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – October, 2003

     Delightful, amusing, and lucrative best describe the subject of this article. In addition to teaching the virtues of thrift, the "Sweet Thrift Bank" (Figure 1) was designed to vend tempting chocolate treats to youngsters while "saving and making money."
     This satisfier of many a sweet tooth was the creation of Mr. Isidore Kronowit of New York City. On December 11, 1928 he was assigned Design Patent Number 77,158 (Figure 2) for a "Toy Bank" in the form of a vending machine.
     Mr. Kronowit's invention distinguished itself by deviating from typical manufacturing procedures of its era. The "Sweet Thrift Bank" is a lithographed, tin-plate mechanical vending bank manufactured in the U.S.A. Mechanical banks produced in the United States during this period were, generally, constructed of cast iron, and not of the vending genre. Conversely, European creations were, for the most part, vending banks composed solely of lithographed tin-plate. Fortunately, U.S. patent laws permitted preservation of data pertaining to toys and mechanical banks, thus protecting the history of "Sweet Thrift". Most tin-plate mechanicals produced in pre-World War I Germany are devoid of their heritage due to restrictive German patent laws of the era.
     Figure 3 represents an advertisement by Johnson Smith and Company, the distributor of "Sweet Thrift Bank". The ad appeared in its Novelty and Toy Catalog, circa 1930-1937. The selling price indicated was 35 cents each bank. Chocolate wafers were priced at an additional ten per 10 cents. "Be Sure To Get Plenty of Refills—They'll Go Fast".
     Johnson and Smith offered "Sweet Thrift Bank" in three colors. Figure 1 represents a lithographed red example while the others are either a green or yellow color.
     Action of this American-manufactured mechanical is typical of the multitude of tin chocolate vending banks produced in Europe during the 1930's. A coin, either a penny, nickel, or dime, is inserted into the slot located above the front glass chocolate display window. This releases an internal latch that allows the small drawer under the window to be opened, thereby providing the depositor access to one, individually wrapped chocolate wafer. Deposits are recovered by opening a hinged, key lock side door (Figure 4). This door also provided access to an interior chocolate wafer-loading chute designed to replenish the depleted supply of candy.
     Interestingly, the chocolate wafers themselves impart significant data relating to the manufacturer of "Sweet Thrift Bank". Printed upon each of the wafer's over-wrap are the words "Nestle's Milk Chocolate. Packaged specifically for Sweet Thrift Banks. The Beverly Novelty Corporation, 303 Fifth Avenue, New York City. To operate, deposit penny, nickel, or dime, open drawer, and there's your candy bar".
     Other wordage on the obverse of the bank but not evident in the photograph (Figure 1) reads as follows: "THE LESSON OF THRIFT TAUGHT IN A SWEET WAY". The words "PAT. APPL'D FOR" are indicated on the bank's side.
     "Sweet Thrift Bank" is not considered scarce. Nonetheless, it is an attractive addition to a collection of mechanical banks. This is especially evident when the three color variants are displayed together. To my knowledge, the "Sweet Thrift Bank", Figure 1, has never been reproduced. Its dimensions are provided merely as an aid to collectors in determining size and scale: Height: 5-15/16 inches, Width: 2-3/16 inches.

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