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Hall’s Lilliput Bank (Type III)
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – May, 1987

     Upon first glance, one might describe the Hall's Lilliput bank as dull and inoffensive. Closer examination, however, reveals a mechanical possessing jewel-like elegance and simple dignity. The delicately cast, vividly chromatic building, guarded by a most tastefully attired gentleman, all pay tribute to this tiny bank's significance.
     On May 4, 1875, John Hall of Watertown, MA, was granted Patent number 162,747 for his Lilliput bank (Figure 1). Close adherence to these patent drawings obviously wasn't mandatory, as evidenced by the final production bank which was manufactured by the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, CT (Figure 2). Subsequently, on July 27, 1875, design Patent number 8,498 was issued to John Hall (Figure 3). These patent papers are of considerable interest since they incorporate an actual photograph of the Lilliput bank, rather than the customary drawing, implying the bank's design was patented after it was manufactured.
     The words, "PATENTED MAY, 1875;" "Jan 1876;" "PAT DESIGN, JULY 27, 1875" are cast into the sides and back of the bank, which facilitated the location of the patent papers reproduced in this article.
     A unique feature, indicative of all mechanical banks designed by John Hall, was the use of a coin's weight to initiate action. Yet, on April 24, 1877, Hall was granted a patent for an "improvement" on his Lilliput bank (Figure 4). It utilized a lever which, when pressed, resulted in the commencement of action, with or without a coin. To the best of my knowledge, this lever design "improvement" was never incorporated into any manufactured Lilliput bank.
     The action of the Hall's Lilliput is quite simplistic and is described in an 1883 issue of the J. and E. Stevens Company Toy Catalog (Figure 5): "Pretty, tasteful, and simple in construction. Cannot get out of order. The coin laid upon the plate is carried around by the Cashier and placed in the Bank. The figure then returns to its place, ready for another deposit." The coins are removed from the bank by way of a small, round Stevens-type coin trap underneath the base.
     There are several casting variations of the Hall's Lilliput bank. They are designated as types I, II, and III. The building contained within Type I (the earliest in terms of manufacture) is more narrowly designed than types II and III and utilized pressure lugs rather than rivets in order to hold the bank's parts together. Also, there is no tray in the Cashier's hands. The type II Lilliput bank differs from type III (Figure 2) only to the extent that it utilized a cashier similar to the type I bank, with no tray and longer forearms. It is my contention that the incorporation of a tray in the type III Lilliput bank made it more efficient and less likely for the coins to slip off the cashier’s arms prior to deposit.
     The types I, II, and III Lilliput banks were painted in various color schemes. They may be any combination of red, yellow, blue, light green, dark brown, white, or tan. The cashier could have either a blue or black jacket and gray or tan pants. The colors of the bank in Figure 2 are as follows: the four sides of the bank are basically bright yellow and are highlighted with red, blue, and white. The roof is red with a white dome and ribs. The oval depression behind the cashier is painted light green, and the steps are dark brown. The four vertical corners of the bank are painted blue, and the foundation is red. The face and hands of the cashier are a pink flesh color. His hair, eyes, eyebrows, mustache, goatee, and shoes are black. His jacket is dark blue and he sports a red vest, white shirt, and tan pants.
     The Hall's Lilliput bank type III is not considered rare, but finding one in superb paint condition can prove a challenge to the collector – commanding an appropriate price.
     I am not aware of any reproductions of this bank. However, the base diagram (Figure 6) should help determine size and scale.
     Note: In the March 1987 issue of Antique Toy World, article entitled, "Lion and Monkeys Bank, " Patent number 281,177 was a typo error and should have read, "Patent number 281,377."

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