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Harold Lloyd Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine July, 2000

     Hollywood has provided the world with some of the most memorable films and exciting talent ever to be seen. This was no less true during its earlier years, that of the 1920s, when the silent movie was the major source of entertainment.
     Skillful comedians, dedicated to their craft and mission of providing laughter, emerged to dominate the silver screen. Familiar names such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, Harry Langdon, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and Harold Lloyd delighted the public with their mute antics. However, of these, only Harold Lloyd (Figure 1) was able to sustain the attention and affection of the movie-going public, as evidenced by the greater number of films in which he starred. Compared to Charlie Chaplin's role in a total of four major features over a ten year period, Lloyd played the lead in eleven films.
     Needless to say, enterprising entrepreneurs in this country and abroad were eager to profit from the success and overwhelming popularity of Lloyd. A plethora of items bearing his likeness were created and sold. Photographic images, dolls, masks, Lloyd-style eyeglasses, hats, figurines, and toys inundated the marketplace. One of these manufacturers, the Saalheimer and Strauss Company, located in Nurnberg, Germany, produced the "Harold Lloyd" tin mechanical bank (Figure 2). The company was one of the most prestigious German manufacturers of the era. Their production included tinplate novelty items, household goods, toys, and mechanical banks.
     Figure 3 represents a rare, early twentieth-century Saalheimer and Strauss advertising flyer in which are featured several tin mechanicals in its line, including the "Harold Lloyd" bank. This flyer identifies the "Harold Lloyd" bank as one of a set of six different subjects of exactly the same style and configuration. However, to date, eight different subjects from this group have been identified and these reside in various collections. The banks are "Harold Lloyd", "British Lion", "Bulldog", "Bear", "Clown", "Tiger", "African Native", and "Golliwog".
     Interestingly, several of the aforementioned were not only marketed as mechanical banks, but also as candy containers. These were originally supplied with their coin receptacles filled with Lyon's Toffees. Many examples exhibit the following words on their obverse: "LYON'S TOFFEES, LONDON, ENGLAND, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO WORK BEFORE REMOVING TOFFEES."
     Activation of the "Harold Lloyd" bank is simplistic as well as humorous. The looped wire lever on the left side of Harold's hat is depressed. Simultaneously, his jaw lowers, his eyes move upward, and his tongue protrudes. A coin is then placed upon the tongue and the lever is released. The tongue and coin automatically snap back into the bank, and the jaw returns to the position seen in Figure 2. Deposits are retrieved by opening the sliding key lock coin retainer at the top of the coin box.
     The "Harold Lloyd" mechanical is considered quite rare, as are most of the others identified in this series. For this reason, it is unlikely that even the most diligent of bank collectors would be able to acquire the complete set.
     To my knowledge none of the Saalheimer and Strauss banks have been reproduced. Nevertheless, I am including the following dimensions of the "Harold Lloyd" tin mechanical bank to aid in determining size and scale: Heights 5-3/8 inches; Width: 3 inches.
     ACKNOWLEDGMENT: The "Harold Lloyd" bank (Figure 2), is from the collection of Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck.

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