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Fun Producing Savings Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine June, 2012

     TOY MANUFACTURERS OF the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were adept in determining the potential popularity of their products. Toys and mechanical banks were created to appeal to the general public. There was, indeed, no lack of subject matter, as indicated by the diversity of themes utilized.
     Mechanicals that preached morality included "Boy Robbing Bird's Nest" and "Boys Stealing Watermelons". Educational themes were provided by "Bank of Education and Economy" and "Picture Gallery". The excitement of circuses and enjoyment of zoos were demonstrated by "Circus Bank", "Elephant and Three Clowns", "Lion and Monkeys" and "Zoo Bank".
     A humorous and, somewhat, surprising element was provided by mechanicals that included "Zig Zag Bank" and our subject, "Fun Producing Savings Bank", seen in Figures 1 and 2. The humorous aspect of "Fun Producing" is revealed upon insertion of one cent into its slot. Although the scale's face promises "YOUR CORRECT WEIGHT", the deposit subsequently reveals the surprising answer "YOU ARE ONE CENT LIGHTER".
     "Fun Producing Savings Bank" is but one of three different mechanicals to employ a platform-type scale as its subject. All three were assembled from tin plate. During this period in toy manufacturing history most tin plate mechanical banks originated within Europe. However, "Fun Producing Savings Bank" emerged as one of the few exceptions, having been produced in the United States. The two other tin plate, scale-type mechanicals were "Try Your Weight Scale" and "Record Money Bank" (Figures 3 and 4). The latter two were created in Germany.
     "Fun Producing Savings Bank" was manufactured by the Silver-Mirror Company of Chicago, Illinois.
The firm was engaged primarily in a catalog, premium, mail order business. Companies such as this one was popular during this era since they afforded young children the opportunity to purchase toy novelty items through the mail. Parents were also given the opportunity to avoid the inconvenience of frivolous toy purchasing trips to town.
     Figure 5 features an advertisement for "Fun Producing Savings Bank" which appeared in a Butler Bros., New York City, wholesale toy catalog, circa 1918. In it the "Scale Bank" is offered at "1 doz. in box...Doz. 95". Additional pertinent data relating to our subject's heritage may be gleaned from a label affixed to the underside of the bank's base (Figure 6). This information revealed the name of the bank, its manufacturer, and, importantly, its retail price of 15 cents.
     Figure 7 displays a side section of the packing carton utilized for "Fun Producing Savings Bank". Printed upon it are the following instructions regarding the mechanical's operation: "Press lever down to its lowest position. The shutter will read "Your correct weight". Now insert your penny in the slot at the top of the bank and lever will fly back. The shutter now reads "You are one cent lighter". To remove the coins, insert the key in the two slots of the lock on the platform and turn to the left. Remove lock and take out the coins."
     "Fun Producing Savings Bank" is considered quite scarce, especially when acquired in mint condition. Despite its modest size (i.e. Height: 5-1/2 inches. Width: 2 inches), this mechanical is an extremely desirable and interesting addition to a mechanical bank collection.
     Acknowledgment: The mint example "Fun Producing Savings Bank" (Figures 1 and 21 and its original box (Figure 7) weigh in at the Kidd Toy Museum, Frank and Joyce Kidd proprietors.
     Addendum: Refer to Antique Toy World article, April 2012, "Signal Cabin Bank". Pertaining to deposited money removal...Some examples of "Signal Cabin Bank" require only the sliding back of its curvilinear roof to accomplish coin retrieval.

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