Dime Pistol Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – January, 2000
Whose little "red blooded" American boy growing
up in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries hadn't participated in the
games referred to as "cops and robbers" and "cowboys and Indians"? The
simplistic antics of the children were often enhanced by donning apparel
befitting their "role".
It did not require much insight on the part of toy manufacturers of
the era to conclude that the blandishment of a firearm was an important
aspect of these games. The popularity of this weapon was apparent in its
utilization in children's playthings, including mechanical banks such as
"Teddy and the Bear", "Indian and the Bear", "Lion Hunter", etc.
An ingenious inventor, James Hall Bevington of Chicago, Illinois,
went a step further. He designed a mechanical bank which combined the form
of a toy pistol with a mechanism specifically intended to encourage thrift
(Figure 1). Referring to his creation as "a coin receiving toy pistol"
(Figure 2), Bevington applied for, and was, on September 21, 1909, granted
934,957 (Figure 2). On this same date, all design and
production rights were assigned to the Richard Elliot Company of Chicago,
Illinois, who ultimately manufactured the mechanical.
The patent diagrams exhibited in Figure 2 indicate that the Elliot
Company was, with one exception, faithful to Bevington's invention. The
dissimilarity occurs with the omission of a small bell intended to sound
with each deposit. It was to be mounted within the cavity of the pistol.
This bell may have been excluded due to production complexity and/or cost.
The "Dime Pistol Bank" is quite unique by virtue of the fact that it
not only was manufactured of cast iron (Figure 1) but also produced in the
more commonly seen nickel plated, pressed steel version. The cast iron
variation is extremely scarce, and adding one to a collection can prove a
Operation of both examples is identical: a ten cent
piece is placed within the slot at the end of the barrel. (Note: the bank
will only accept dimes.) When the trigger is pulled, a hooked projection
emerges from the muzzle of the pistol, engaging the coin and quickly
snapping it into the bank. Deposits are reclaimed by opening the hinged,
combination lock coin retainer located at the base of the handle. This
locking device displays the inscription, "MANUFACTURED BY RICHARD ELLIOT
CO. CHICAGO, IL". In addition, the word "PATENTED" is engraved into both
sides of the frame on both sides of the hammer.
The "Dime Pistol Bank" is a member of a group of mechanicals which
may be utilized as a toy rather than to function solely as a coin savings
device. This category boasts of such notables as "Jumbo Elephant Bank"
(refer to Antique Toy World article of
December, 1987), "Light of Asia"
(November, 1991), "Elephant with Tusks on Wheels" (February, 1992),
"Safety Locomotive" (January, 1993), "Motor Bank" (August, 1995), etc.
The "Dime Pistol Bank" is designated a "cross collectible". It is
sought after by both mechanical bank collectors and toy pistol
enthusiasts. This aspect adds greatly to its desirability.
As an aside, another mechanical that epitomizes the description of a
"cross collectible" is the alluring "Darktown Battery" (refer to Antique
Toy World article
of January, 1985). It not only appeals to bank collectors, but also to
those interested in negro memorabilia, and to buffs of the game of
Figure 3 represents an advertisement from the Nerlich and Company toy
jobbers catalog, circa 1910-11. The "Dime Pistol Bank" is featured with a
selling price of $7.20 per dozen to the trade, considerably below the
price of several thousand dollars for a superb cast iron example which
Although neither variety of the "Dime Pistol Bank" is believed to
have been reproduced, the following dimensions are given as an aid to the
collector in determining size and scale: Length: 5-1/2 inches; Height: