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Railroad Ticket Vending Bank
(Doll and Company)

by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine November, 2007

     The years 1870 through 1935 proved to be the most prolific in the history of mechanical bank production. During this period mechanicals produced within the United States were composed primarily of painted cast iron while those manufactured in Europe (mainly Germany) were created from painted or lithographed tinplate.
     German tinplate toy manufacture dominated the world market. Companies such as Saalheimer and Strauss, Marklin, Gebruder Bing, Doll and Company, etc. produced not only tinplate toys and mechanical banks but also steam engines and model railroad train sets. Cognizant of worldwide infatuation with mechanical banks, several German toy train manufacturers redesigned components of their model train accessories (e.g. platform ticket dispensers, postage stamp dispensers and beverage dispensers) to also function as mechanical banks. In most instances the conversion was accomplished by simply adding a key lock retainer. Our featured subject, "Bahnsteigkarten" (Platform Ticket Dispensing Bank) seen in Figure 1, is an example of one such factory conversion.
     "Bahnsteigkarten" was created by Doll and Company. Founded in 1898 by Peter Doll and J. Sondheim, the company specialized in the production of toy steam engines, steam accessories and model railroad sets. The factory was located in Nurnberg, Germany, then the world center for manufacture of fine tinplate toys and household items.
     (As an aside, and of some interest, is this mechanical's name, itself, i.e. "Bahnsteigkarten", translating to "Platform Tickets". Prior to World War II, travelers purchasing "Platform Tickets" were the only ones allowed into the boarding area of the train stations of Europe. This is analogous to today's issuing of boarding passes to passengers at airports.)
     It is fortunate that the "Bahnsteigkarten" Mechanical Bank (Figure 1) displays the Doll and Company logo. As seen in Figure 2, it is affixed to the top of the bank. Such accessible identification aids both the collector and historian to document the toy's heritage and approximate date of manufacture.
     Figure 3 is a Doll and Company catalog advertisement featuring two other railroad vending banks, namely "Briefmarken-Automat" (Postage Stamp Dispenser) and "Getranke-Automat" (Drink Dispenser). Although the "Bahnsteigkarten" (Station Ticket Dispenser) is not pictured, construction and design similarities support the contention that the trio comprises a set of three vending banks manufactured by the company.
     As examples of the conversions to mechanical banks, the following are partial excerpts from the aforementioned Doll and Company sales catalog ad (Figure 3), translated from German: "No. 861 Briefmarken-Automat": ...Postage Stamp Dispenser. D.R.G.M. (German Patent) ...Place a coin in the slot, pull the knob and get one postage stamp...It is a postage stamp machine and a coin savings bank...".
     "No.867. Getranke-Automat": Drink Dispenser. D.R.G.M. (German Patent) ...Place a coin in the slot, press the lever and liquid comes out of the spout, into the glass. The bank has a lock and key so it is not only a drink dispenser but a coin savings bank...".
     "Bahnsteigkarten" is appreciated by, and appeals to, the model train enthusiast as well as the mechanical bank collector. Its operation commences with the insertion of a coin into the slot adjacent to the words "Geld Einwurf' (i.e. Money Goes Here). This is followed by the words "Griff Ziehen" (i.e. Pull the Knob"), after which a ticket is dispensed through the slot marked "Ihre Karte" (i.e. Your Ticket). Ticket restocking and coin removal are accomplished by opening the key lock back door of the bank (Figure 4).
     "Bahnsteigkarten Bank" is extremely rare. Less than a handful are known to exist, and these in the collections of a few fortunate individuals. Despite its simplistic design and diminutive size, i.e. Height 5-3/4 inches, Width 2 inches, Depth 1-1/2 inches, "Bahnsteigkarten Bank" is a highly desirable and attractive addition to a mechanical bank collection.
     Acknowledgement: The near mint example of "Bahnsteigkarten Bank" (Figure 1), including its original platform tickets, is in the collection of Bob Weiss.

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