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