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Target in the Vestible Bank
A Collectible Fake

by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine March, 2009

     Authentic in appearance and bogus by design are those antique mechanical banks categorized as "collectible fakes". Quite an interesting and distinctive category for mechanicals created by a few individuals, their prime purpose to intentionally deceive!
     These "fakes", produced approximately seventy years ago, were never commercially manufactured. Unsuspecting collectors were led to believe they were acquiring a rare and unique item. Most of these dubious creations were originally housed in renowned, pioneer mechanical bank collections. During those early years, i.e. 1920's through the 1940's, methods of detection for authenticity such as black light, lead paint tests, etc. were non-existent, allowing them to be misrepresented as originals.
     Ironically, because of their quality of construction, historical value, mystique and provenance, many of these mechanical banks are avidly sought after by several of today's collectors. Examples of notable "fakes" include the subject of this article, "Target in the Vestibule Bank", seen in Figure 1, as well as the following: "Carnival Bank", "Ferris Wheel Bank", "Feed the Kitty", "Trick Donkey", "Surly Bruin", "Bull Tosses Boy In Well", "Cat and Mouse, Mouse Standing", "Hanibal Bank", "Tricky Pig", etc.
     The choice to feature "Target In the Vestibule" was based upon its creator's ingenious concept of using elements and/or patterns from two known, commercially produced antique penny banks. One of the components was pirated from a mechanical bank while the other sections were derived from a still bank.
     Figure 2 represents the "Metropolitan Bank", a still bank in the style of a floor safe. It was manufactured by the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut, circa 1880. The top, bottom, back and side sections of this bank were utilized to construct the main body of "Target in Vestibule", while a pattern for a new facade, that of a concave vestibule, was fabricated and cast. Figure 3 represents the top portion of the cupola of "Bowing Man In Cupola Bank", a mechanical also manufactured by the J. and E. Stevens Company (circa 1880). It seems likely the anonymous individual that created "Target in Vestibule" may have had access to the original patterns of the figure of the "bowing man". This figure may have been utilized in the assemblage of our featured mechanical by combining it with original parts of "Metropolitan Bank".
     Action of "Target in Vestibule" is interesting and appropriate to its cognomen. Initially, the man's arms and tray are lowered and snapped into position. A coin is then placed upon the tray. A spring lever located underneath the front of the bank is pressed, thereby releasing the arms and tray. This causes the coin to be flipped up and over the man's head, through the square "target" window and into the bank. Deposited monies are recovered by disassembling the mechanical.
     "Target in Vestibule" is an extremely rare and attractive item. If one can ignore the fact that it was not a commercially produced mechanical, but rather something to be admired and enjoyed simply as a historical oddity, it certainly does have a place within a complete and comprehensive mechanical bank collection. The following dimensions are included solely to aid the collector in determining size and scale of our featured mechanical: Height: 5-7/8 inches; Width: 4-1/8 inches; Depth: 4-1/2 inches.
     Acknowledgement: The fine example "Target in Vestibule Bank" (Figure 1) was photographed for this article while in the renowned collection of its former owners, Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck.

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