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Kiltie Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine July, 1996

     Discussions involving "bust-type" mechanical banks generally conjure up images of those well-known examples which exemplify blatant racist sentiment. These include "Dinah," "Uncle Tom," and countless varieties of the "Jolly Nigger" banks. However, there are others in the "bust-type" category which dignify and commemorate their subjects. Amongst these are notables such as the "Humpty Dumpty Bank" (refer to Antique Toy World, July 1984), the "Queen Victoria" bust bank (A.T.W., October 1995), the "Uncle Sam" bust bank (A.T.W., May 1989), and the subject of this article, "Kiltie Bank" (Figure I).
     Although its name is derived from the "kilt," or skirt-type garment, the "Kiltie Bank" unfortunately is not able to display this aspect of the Scottish Highlander's outfit. What we are able to observe, and that which involves another important fact of traditional Scottish dress, is the tartan. Draped over Kiltie's left shoulder, it is a length of cloth into which is woven a colorful plaid pattern, formerly used to identify the numerous clans which inhabited the Highlands.
     The "Kiltie Bank" was registered in Great Britain on July 29, 1931, and was assigned Register Number 766,563. It was manufactured by John Harper and Company Ltd., of Willenhall, England, a well-known and prestigious manufacturer of cast-iron mechanical banks during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The quality of castings and paint application was generally not as fine and detailed as its counterpart in the United States, i.e., the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. Nonetheless, the design, simplicity, and boldness of Harper's products speak highly of the company. Figure II is a representation of an early John Harper catalog featuring several of its other mechanical banks.
     Action of "Kiltie" is uncomplicated and certainly most suggestive of the Scotsman's penchant for saving money. A coin is placed into our subject's right hand. As the lever in the rear of the bank is depressed, the right arm ascends, the eyes roll upward, and the coin slides into the slot in the tartan. (Note: Only large English pennies will allow for proper operation.) Deposits are retrieved by unscrewing the baseplate underneath the bank.
     There are no casting or color variations of the "Kiltie Bank." Colors of the mechanical shown in Figure I are as follows: the face is painted an overall pink flesh color, with blue eyes; rosy cheeks; black hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and moustache; and a bright red mouth. The hat is black with red borders, and the jacket is painted bright red with white buckles, buttons and embellishments. The tartan is an indigo and red plaid design. The hand is a pink flesh color, and the raised letters "KILTIE BANK, RD NO. 766563" on the back of the bank are highlighted in gold.
     The "Kiltie Bank" is an appealing and desirable member of the bust-bank family and is an extremely attractive addition to one's collection. I am not aware of the existence of any reproductions. If a bogus example were to surface, it would appear approximately one quarter of an inch smaller in width, O.D., than indicated in the base diagram (Figure III).
     The superb example of the "Kiltie Bank" (Figure I) is from the collection of Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck.

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