Saalheimer and Strauss of
Two Salesmen’s Flyers
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – December, 1989
The era of
Mechanical bank production, known as the "Golden Age," was a period of
time in which several major manufacturers flourished, both in the United
States and abroad. During those years, which encompassed the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a wealth of cast-iron and tin
gems emerged to delight children with their message of "penny saved, penny
Most major mechanical-bank-producing countries (i.e., United States,
Canada and Great Britain) had retained their patent files, enabling
dissemination of pertinent data relative to dates of production,
inventors, manufacturers, etc. It is unfortunate, however, that patent
laws governing mechanical banks invented in Germany during that period
were responsible for the total lack of information available from that
country. Those laws stipulated that patents which contributed little, or
nothing, to industry or society be designated as Reichsgebrachsmuster, or,
"small, insignificant patents." These were filed for a period of fifteen
years and then routinely discarded, thus depriving those patented objects
of a heritage.
It is precisely because of this practice that the serious bank
collector is pleased when factual information pertaining to these German
banks surfaces. Establishment of time and place are important revelations
when there is little or no known documentation.
Recently, two rare, early salesmen's sample flyers from the
Saalheimer and Strauss Toy Company*, of Nurnberg, Germany (Figures I and
II), have been discovered. These have shed new light on several tin
mechanical banks which previously were only presumed to have been produced
by that manufacturer. They are: Tin Scotsman, Tin Bonzo, Jolly Joe the
Clown, Harold Lloyd, British Lion, Saluting Sailor and Clever Dick.
Because of similarity in design, configuration and mechanics to the banks
illustrated, this writer feels the following may also be the products of
Saalheimer and Strauss: Mickey Mouse, Tin Tiger, Tin English Bulldog, Tin
Teddy Bear, African Native and Clown and Dog and Monkey and Parrot.
Several years ago, patent papers were located for the Tin Minstrel (See
Figure I) and the Tin Sentry (Figure II), thereby offering indisputable
proof that these banks were also products of Saalheimer and Strauss.
It is interesting to note the importance many mechanical bank
collectors are now placing on ephemera, such as Figures I and II, which
relate to antique banks and their manufacturers. Previously considered
valuable only to the historian, collectors have begun to pursue them with
intensity. Many such pieces command a higher price than those objects they
The Saalheimer and Strauss Company was engaged in the manufacture of
tinplate toys and mechanical banks from 1928 to 1936, at which time
production ceased and business was terminated.