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BOOK-KEEPER'S MAGIC BANK
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine September, 2013

"BOOK-KEEPER'S MAGIC BANK", seen in Figure 1, had certainly been aptly entitled. Not only did it serve its youthful owner as an education in bookkeeping, but also offered an attractive and appropriate receptacle to keep its accompanying miniature ledger book seen in Figure 2.
     Unfortunately, other than its name imprinted upon the facade, there is no other wordage to indicate the mechanical's designer, manufacturer, or country of origin. However, conjecture amongst historians and collectors is that "Book-Keeper's Magic Bank" may possibly be of German manufacture. This assumption is based upon the material utilized in its construction (i.e. lithographed tin plate), the shape of its trap door coin retainer, and the lack of available patent data.
     During the period of production (1880-1935) most mechanical banks manufactured in the United States were constructed almost entirely of cast iron, with few exceptions. Conversely, during those years the largest number of mechanicals produced in Germany were created primarily of colorfully lithographed tin plate. In addition, most, if not all, German banks utilized a rectangular key lock coin retainer. Sadly, the coin closure of "Book-Keeper's Magic Bank" is missing. All that remains is a rectangular void in the tin plate base, possibly indicating the bank may have incorporated such a rectangular key lock coin retainer.
     Lack of patent data pertaining to this mechanical's country of origin is, perhaps, a result of early German patent law. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries products considered insignificant, e.g. toys and mechanical banks, were issued "Reichsgelbrachmuster" (Registered Design Documents). These documents were mandated to be discarded after fifteen years of issuance, resulting in the current void for historians seeking knowledge of the bank's heritage.
     Action of "Book-Keeper's Magic Bank" is ingeniously apropos to its subject. Initially, the small ledger book (Figure 2) is pressed downward and kept in place in the raised slot atop the roof of the bank. A coin is then nudged into the slot located directly in front of the raised ledger receptacle. Simultaneously, the ledger book "pops up" (Figure 3) and the coin is deposited into the bank. The young depositor was then able to remove the ledger and accurately record the exact amount of the deposit and the sum total of all previous deposits. Despite the lack of its original coin retainer, it is assumed that deposits are recovered by unlocking a key lock, tin plate rectangular coin door located underneath the base of the bank.
     Worthy of mention is a most interesting aspect of this particular example (Figure 1). Inscribed upon the cover of the ledger seen in Figure 2 is the name "Emmy Eiffe", who may very well have been its original owner. Such provenance imparts a personal touch and humanity to an otherwise impersonal, inanimate object. Collectors seek and appreciate indications of a mechanical's previous custodian(s).
     "Book-Keeper's Magic Bank" is modest in appearance and size: Height: 6 inches. Width: 5 inches, Depth: 4 inches. However, its uniqueness and extreme rarity contribute to its desirability as an important addition to a mechanical bank collection.
     Acknowledgment: The fine example "Book-Keeper's Magic Bank" (Figure 1) is in the Kidd Toy Museum collection, Frank and Joyce Kidd proprietors. 

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