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Thoroughbred Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine January, 2006

     Who amongst us can dispute the popularity of the stately equine? Its sleek and graceful image has been incorporated into an inexhaustible number of manufactured items over the centuries.
     When, in the late nineteenth century, the sport of horse racing became a major pastime in the United States, there was heightened interest and public demand for objects depicting the noble animal. The profusion of goods reflecting its likeness included such items as weather vanes, statues, lamps, paintings, clothing, clocks, jewelry, toys, games, and mechanical banks. The latter category saw the birth of such notables as "Hall's Race Course Bank" (refer to Antique Toy World, April 1987), "Trick Pony Bank" (ATW, November 1996), "Winner Savings Bank" (ATW, March 2001), "Fortune Horse Race Savings Bank" (April ATW, April 2001) and the subject of this article, "Thoroughbred Bank" (Figure 1).
     Unfortunately, to date, no patent papers, catalog pages, or correspondence have surfaced indicating the designer(s) and/or manufacturer of "Thoroughbred Bank". This situation allows for much speculation and conjecture by historians and mechanical bank collectors.
     Over the years several theories have emerged based upon the bank's subject matter, action, construction and composition. It is believed by many that one of the following foundries may have had the capabilities to produce "Thoroughbred Bank": Edward R. Ives Company of Plymouth, Connecticut (manufacturer of such toys as "Articulated Walking Horse", Figure 2), and Francis W. Carpenter Company of Westchester, New York (producer of horse drawn toys, as seen in Figure 3). However, this does not rule out other possible toy and/or bank producing iron foundries of the period.
     Figure 4 reveals the internal mechanism of "Thoroughbred Bank". Interestingly, several other mechanicals utilize a similar cast iron, weighted, counter balance mechanism. These include" "Tabby Bank" (ATW, February 1984), "Circus Ticket Collector" (ATW, July 1983), "Peg Leg Beggar" (ATW, June 1983), "Jumbo Elephant" (ATW, December 1987), "Light of Asia" (ATW, November, 1991) and "Elephant With Tusks, On Wheels" (ATW, February 1992). In view of this information, it might also be possible that one of the manufacturers of the aforementioned mechanical banks could have produced "Thoroughbred".
     Action of "Thoroughbred Bank" is simplistic and quite characteristic of this princely steed. A coin is inserted through the slot located behind the saddle. This causes its left leg to rise. Upon deposition of the money the leg lowers to the position seen in Figure 1. Deposits are recovered by unscrewing, thus disassembling, both halves of the bank.
     "Thoroughbred Bank" is extremely rare, with only one example known. Its scarcity may be attributed to extremely fragile, delicate castings and, possibly, breakage during reassembly after coin removal.
     Although I am not aware of the existence of reproductions, a base diagram of "Thoroughbred Bank" is seen in Figure 5. It is intended to aid collectors in determining size and scale. If the making of a recast was attempted, it would appear approximately one-quarter inch shorter O.D. than indicated.
     Acknowledgements: The superb example "Thoroughbred Bank", Figure 1, blissfully grazes within the collection of Max Berry.
     Alex Jamison photographed Figures 1 and 4.

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