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Thrifty Animal Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine May, 2011

     ENJOYING TILE SPOTLIGHT, this article, is a most under appreciated tin plate mechanical bank. The simplistic and modest "Thrifty Animal Bank" (Figure 1) has been overlooked in favor of sizable, more attractive and impressive mechanicals.
     This unassuming bank may have also suffered from "multiple classification disorder". Invariably, a toy savings bank is a member of only one of three distinct categories: i.e. Still Bank, Mechanical Bank or Registering Bank. Interestingly, our featured subject shares certain characteristics of each of these.
     While it cannot be classified as a registering bank, the "Thrifty Animal Bank" does possess a
feature in common with most registering banks, namely, automatic coin release when full. It is necessary to deposit a total of ten dimes, each dime to occupy an acorn slot, as seen in Figure 1. The tenth dime activates the release mechanism for removal of coins through the base.
     In addition to this Registering Bank feature, "Thrifty Animal Bank" can also be considered a Still Bank. Its roof exhibits three distinct openings for currency acceptance. At the rear are a large slot and a round hole; these voids function simply as still bank receptacles. The round hole accepts rolled up paper currency while the large slot is able to accept coins of all sizes and denominations. The slot located in the front of the bank is smaller and designed to accept only dimes. The coinage will ultimately fill all of the acorn voids, as previously mentioned. This will then mechanically open the bank, hence its mechanical bank.
     "Thrifty Animal Bank" was manufactured by the Buddy "L" Company of East Moline, Illinois. It is pictured in full color in one of the company's catalogs, circa 1920.
     When designing "Thrifty Animal Bank", the company boldly identified each of its components, thus simplifying usage for young children. The top section of the bank is the location of the large slot and designated for "ALL OTHER COINS", while the small slot located at the front is identified as "DIMES ONLY". The BUDDY "L" COMPANY trademark is also present (Figure 2). The facade of the mechanical exhibits its name: "THRIFTY ANIMAL BANK" (refer to Figure 1).
     The left side of the bank (Figure 3) poetically instructs the depositor as follows: "Close up the hole in the acorn. You do it only nine times. Then when you put in the tenth one, it makes up a dollar in dimes". The right side (Figure 4) displays, non-poetic, directions for usage. The rear section serves solely for decorative purposes. It displays the colorful and humorous image of two foraging squirrels (Figure 5). Impressed into the bottom portion of the automatically removable base plate are the words "Buddy "L" Company, Quality Toys, East Moline, Ill. Made in U.S. of America".
     Buddy "L" achieved great acclaim during the 1920's and 1930's as major producers of large, heavy gauge, sheet steel automotive toys. Most young boys of the era had played with a "Buddy L" toy truck, steam shovel, riding train locomotive or fire engine, while the wealthier lads enjoyed a deluxe toy "Model T Ford Roadster."
     To conclude, despite Figure 5 its simplistic design and miniscule size (Height: 3-1/16 inches. Width: 3-13/16 inches. Depth: 3 inches), "Thrifty Animal Bank" is an amusing, attractive and interesting addition to a mechanical bank collection. Its tricategorical status further designates it a desirable item for collectors of mechanical, registering and/or still banks.
     Acknowledgment: The superb example 'Thrifty Animal Bank", seen in Figure 1, is in the Bob Weiss collection of mechanical banks.

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