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Indiana Paddle Wheeler Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine December, 2004

     The subject of this article is an extremely rare and unique mechanical bank. The "Indiana Paddle Wheeler", pictured in Figure 1, is known at this time to exist in only two collections.
     This mechanical distinguishes itself by its utilization of the most unique, ingenious, and intricate coin delivery system ever incorporated into a mechanical bank. Figure 2 represents the bank prior to activation. The string looped over the top of the mast is pulled downward, thus raising the blue, star-embellished coin carrier. A coin is then inserted within it. Protruding from the carrier is a thin, flexible wire to which is attached a small, round weighted ball. A single "tap" lightly delivered by the depositor causes the rod to vibrate. It is this vibration that induces the coin carrier, with coin in tow, to descend the pole in a jerky motion. As it reaches the ship's deck, a tiny mast in a lifeboat, located at the base of the pole, nudges the coin from the carrier, through a slot, and into the bank. Once inside, the coin strikes an internal baffle, which subsequently causes the elevated Deposits are recovered by opening a spring activated, beam to rock upward and downward. key lock coin retainer located underneath the boat's hull.
     Unfortunately, except for its patent papers, there is little in the way of  historical documentation pertaining to the "Paddle Wheeler" Bank. Copies of said papers have been in my possession for many years and filed with several patents pertaining to other as yet undiscovered mechanical 1 banks. These patent papers revealed the mechanical's creator was a Robert J. Sellentine. The gentleman was granted Patent Number 569,241 on October 13, 1896 for the "Sellentine Toy Money Box", represented in Figure 3. Prior to its discovery by Indiana toy dealer and collector, Don Beck, in the vicinity of Cleveland, Ohio, this mechanical's existence had only been assumed through the aforementioned patent papers. Beck, prior to selling the mechanical (shown in Figures 1 and 2) to collector Steve Steckbeck, offered him conjecture pertaining to its heritage. His thought was that the bank might have been manufactured in Ohio since it was the area in which it had been located, and in close proximity to several local Cleveland iron foundries. Unfortunately, this speculation has never been substantiated.
     Coincidentally, on or about the same time Mr. Beck made his discovery, the late Mr. Andy Moore, noted historian and collector of still banks, discovered another example of the "Sellentine Toy Money Box". He entitled his "new find" "Indiana Paddle Wheeler'. It was subsequently pictured in Andy and Susan Moore's still bank raisonne, "The Penny Bank Book", listed as item number B1442. Recalling a conversation with Andy following his purchase of this bank, he related that his discovery had been in the attic of an old Victorian home located in the Great Lakes region of Indiana, thus explaining his designation for the mechanical.
     The scarcity of "Indiana Paddle Wheeler" Bank may have been due to several significant factors. Its fragile construction, extremely complicated and unreliable coin deposition, and prohibitive manufacturing expense may have discouraged copious production.
     Figure 4 is a base diagram of an original example "Indiana Paddle Wheeler". To my knowledge, there have not been attempts to reproduce this mechanical. However, if a recast would present itself, it would appear approximately one-eighth inch smaller O.D. than indicated.
     As previously mentioned, examples of "Indiana Paddle Wheelers" are known to reside in only two collections. One is anchored in the collection of Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck and the other is now docked in the collection of Don and Betty Jo Heim. Both examples are identical in coloration and castings.

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