The Boy Scout Camp
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – March, 1986
The largest boys'
organization in the world, the Scouts, owes its beginnings to Lieutenant
General Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell, an English officer serving in South
Africa during the Boer War. Finding his troops ill-trained, he wrote a
manual to help them overcome some of the problems they might encounter in
the field. This manual explained tracking, scouting, survival, and
After the war, when Baden-Powell returned to England,
he rewrote his guide to adapt to the needs of boys interested in acquiring
outdoor skills. In 1907, he organized a scouting camp for twenty boys,
thus starting the first Boy Scout movement. In 1908, Baden-Powell
published the first Boy Scout manual. The organization spread to the
United States due to a good deed performed for American businessman,
William D. Boyce. A British Boy Scout helped Boyce find his way through a
London fog without accepting remuneration. This so impressed Boyce that,
when he returned to the United States, he, Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel
Carter Beard, and Sir Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scout movement
in America. It officially became the "Boy Scouts of America" in 1910.
To honor this esteemed organization, the J. and E. Stevens Company of
Cromwell, Connecticut, manufactured and sold the "Boy Scout Camp" bank,
the subject of this article. The bank first appeared for sale in the 1917
J. and E. Stevens Company catalog.
Unfortunately, patent information is sadly lacking. Although the
words, "PAT APLD FOR" is impressed into the back side of the bank, to
date, no patent papers have been located.
Perhaps the internal mechanism which governs the action of the "Boy
Scout Camp" bank was identical, or similar, to another bank under patent
protection by the J. and E. Stevens Company. The similarity between the
action of the "Boy Scout Camp" and the action of the patented "Lion
Hunter" bank (push the lever down and an object is raised; release the
lever and the object is lowered) is apparent.
Despite the lack of patent and design information, it isn't difficult
to speculate that the designer of the "Boy Scout Camp" bank was Charles A.
Bailey. Aside from the fact that, in 1890, Bailey joined the Stevens
Company as chief designer, his personal touch of graceful floral and leaf
patterns abound upon the bank's base. He, the most prolific of all
mechanical bank designers, left this thematic element on no less than
thirty-one creations. Banks such as the "Indian and the Bear", the "Darkey
With Watermelon", "Milking Cow", "Bad Accident", "Perfection Registering",
"Chief Big Moon", "Hen and Chick", "Boy Robbing Bird's Nest", "Lion
Hunter", and others, all utilize this motif of graceful leaf and flori-forms.
There are several actual and alleged casting variations of the" Boy
Scout Camp." One pertains to the words, "PAT APLD FOR" which may, or may
not, be cast into the lower back side of the base. Another concerns itself
with the boy scout standing within the tent. In the photo (Figure 1) we
see him well inside the entrance way. In a variation, he is almost fully
emerged, with the tips of his shoes somewhat touching the edge of the
base. There is also an alleged variation, which portrays an Indian squaw
emerging from the tent. There is great controversy as to the authenticity
of this variant and, to date, there has been no concrete evidence to
support the supposition that it was ever actually manufactured by the
The action of the "Boy Scout Camp" is not particularly exciting,
although it certainly is quite appropriate. A coin is placed into the slot
provided in the tree top. The lever directly beneath the owl is then
pressed downward. Simultaneously, the coin drops into the bank and the boy
scout raises his flag in tribute to the generous contribution. The coins
are removed by way of a round Stevens' coin trap located underneath the
There are no color variations of the "Boy Scout Camp". The colors of
the bank pictured in Figure 1 are as follows: the three scouts wear brown
uniforms; their knee socks are orange and they have black shoes. Their
hands and faces are pink, flesh-color with black eyes, eyebrows, and hair.
All three have red mouths. The tree has a light brown trunk with dark
green leaves. The entire base is dark green, with gray rocks and
bronze-highlighted foliage. The cauldron holder is brown and the cauldron
is black with a silver handle. The coffee pot is also painted silver. The
flag is white with gold letters and it has a gold mast. The pennant
leaning against the teepee is red, and also has a gold mast. The owl is
painted white with gold highlighting. The teepee is white and the lever is
gold. Finally, the entire underside of the bank is painted with a creamy
white protective undercoat – typical of all banks manufactured by Stevens.
The "Boy Scout Camp" is not a rare bank, but it is quite difficult to
acquire one in truly fine condition. This may be due to the fact that it
is an extremely fragile bank and many of its parts were subject to
breakage and loss.
This fine mechanical was manufactured for a relatively short period
of time, after the "golden" age of mechanical banks, when their popularity
as savings devices was drastically waning. This factor, combined with its
historical significance, charming subject matter, colorful appearance, and
imposing size, all add up to a mechanical bank with great charisma and a
challenge for both the new and seasoned collector who has yet to attain
one for his shelf. Figure 2 shows an ad from the 1914 Butler Bros. catalog
offering the " Boy Scout Camp" at a modest $8.00 per dozen, each in its
own box – quite a bargain when one considers the purchase price one
brought at a recent auction.
The "Boy Scout Camp" has been reproduced. I am, therefore, including
a base diagram (Figure 3) to show the size of an original. A reproduction
will appear approximately one-eighth inch shorter in length.