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Savo Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine May, 2004

     Simplistic and unappreciated is the "Savo Bank", Figures 1 - 4. Overlooked in favor of more attractive mechanicals, this tin bank was seemingly doomed to an unpopular, albeit pragmatic existence.
     Its creation as merely a utilitarian savings device is perhaps best explained by the inventor's description, as set forth in the patent papers seen in Figure 6: "An object of my invention is to provide a toy bank of simple, efficient, and compact design, the several parts of which may be readily made on existing automatic machinery, and assembled with a minimum expenditure of time and money."
     Interestingly, this extremely simplistic bank, designed in the shape of the common can required three distinctly different patents. All three were issued to Adrian C. Balsom of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Each patent specifically protects an aspect of the two styles of the bank, i.e. round drum shaped or rectangular, as illustrated in Figures 1-4. Figure 5 is that of Patent number 1,443,943 (round style Savo, twist knob on top), issued on February 6, 1923; Figure 6: Patent number 1,804,733 (rectangular Savo) was issued on May 12, 1931; Figure 7: Patent number 1,838,650 (round style Savo, sliding lever on top), issued on December 29, 1931.
     To date, the manufacturer's identity remains unknown. However, bearing in the mind the words of the aforementioned patent papers: "readily made on existing automated machinery", it might be construed that the banks were produced by one of the major tin can manufacturers of the period. Possibly, this same company added attractive, colorful graphics to the original designs in order to appeal to children and increase sales potential.
     Both versions of "Savo Bank", that is round drum and rectangular shaped, operate similarly. A coin is initially placed within the circular depression on the top of the bank. The lever, or knob, depending upon the style, is moved clockwise, sliding the coin through the slot and into the bank.
     Coin removal is accomplished by cutting out the tin bottom of each bank with a can opener. This radical, destructive, and unconventional method of deposit recovery had drastically reduced the number of fully intact examples to a mere few. In addition, the rectangular shaped mechanicals are scarcer than the drum-shaped design. However, varying pictorial designs do add to its appeal, with rarity also contingent upon the particular designs.
     Other than the two styles of "Savo Bank" featured in this article, I am not aware of any other shapes or configurations. I have seen rectangular examples utilizing images of toy soldiers and several other colors used for the round drum style. Undoubtedly, there is a plethora of colors and designs awaiting discovery by the observant and diligent collector.
     To my knowledge, there are no reproduced examples of "Savo Bank". The following dimensions of both styles are provided to aid the collector in determining size and scale. Figures 1 and 2: Height: 2-3/8 inches, Width: 3-3/16 inches, Depth: 2-11/16 inches; Figures 3 and 4: Height: 2-13/16 inches. Diameter: 2-13/16 inches.
     To conclude, "Savo Bank" is a most interesting and desirable addition to a sophisticated collector and collection. Its brilliance and ingenuity lie in the foresight of Adrian C. Balsom to utilize a tin can company's existing hardware to produce his creation.
     In addition, despite its diminutive size, "Savo Bank" is quite attractive. Its shelf appearance is further enhanced when displayed as a "family" grouping.
     Acknowledgement: The superb examples of "Savo Bank", Figures 1, 2, 3, 4 are from the collection of Robert Weiss.

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