by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – January, 2006
Who amongst us can dispute the popularity of the
stately equine? Its sleek and graceful image has been incorporated into an
inexhaustible number of manufactured items over the centuries.
When, in the late nineteenth century, the sport of horse racing
became a major pastime in the United States, there was heightened interest
and public demand for objects depicting the noble animal. The profusion of
goods reflecting its likeness included such items as weather vanes,
statues, lamps, paintings, clothing, clocks, jewelry, toys, games, and
mechanical banks. The latter category saw the birth of such notables as
"Hall's Race Course Bank" (refer to Antique Toy World,
April 1987), "Trick
Pony Bank" (ATW,
November 1996), "Winner Savings Bank" (ATW,
"Fortune Horse Race Savings Bank" (April ATW,
April 2001) and the subject
of this article, "Thoroughbred Bank" (Figure 1).
Unfortunately, to date, no patent papers, catalog pages, or
correspondence have surfaced indicating the designer(s) and/or
manufacturer of "Thoroughbred Bank". This situation allows for much
speculation and conjecture by historians and mechanical bank collectors.
Over the years several theories have emerged based upon the bank's
subject matter, action, construction and composition. It is believed by
many that one of the following foundries may have had the capabilities to
produce "Thoroughbred Bank": Edward R. Ives Company of Plymouth,
Connecticut (manufacturer of such toys as "Articulated Walking Horse",
Figure 2), and Francis W. Carpenter Company of Westchester, New York
(producer of horse drawn toys, as seen in Figure 3). However, this does
not rule out other possible toy and/or bank producing iron foundries of
Figure 4 reveals the internal mechanism of "Thoroughbred Bank".
Interestingly, several other mechanicals utilize a similar cast iron,
weighted, counter balance mechanism. These include" "Tabby Bank" (ATW,
February 1984), "Circus Ticket Collector" (ATW,
July 1983), "Peg Leg
Beggar" (ATW, June 1983), "Jumbo Elephant" (ATW,
December 1987), "Light of
Asia" (ATW, November, 1991) and "Elephant With Tusks, On Wheels" (ATW,
February 1992). In view of this information, it might also be possible
that one of the manufacturers of the aforementioned mechanical banks could
have produced "Thoroughbred".
Action of "Thoroughbred Bank" is simplistic and quite characteristic
of this princely steed. A coin is inserted through the slot located behind
the saddle. This causes its left leg to rise. Upon deposition of the money
the leg lowers to the position seen in Figure 1. Deposits are recovered by
unscrewing, thus disassembling, both halves of the bank.
"Thoroughbred Bank" is extremely rare, with only one example known.
Its scarcity may be attributed to extremely fragile, delicate castings
and, possibly, breakage during reassembly after coin removal.
Although I am not aware of the existence of reproductions, a base
diagram of "Thoroughbred Bank" is seen in Figure 5. It is intended to aid
collectors in determining size and scale. If the making of a recast was
attempted, it would appear approximately one-quarter inch shorter O.D.
Acknowledgements: The superb example "Thoroughbred Bank", Figure 1,
blissfully grazes within the collection of Max Berry.
Alex Jamison photographed Figures 1 and 4.