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by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine August, 2012

PINBALL GAME VENDING Bank"(Figure 1), subject of this article, is a most interesting and entertaining mechanical. It is a distinguished member of the category generally referred to as "Vending Banks".
     A vending bank, by definition, is a mechanical money savings device that, upon deposition of a coin, dispenses either a confection, a receipt or a ticket. It was, as were all mechanical banks, designed to teach children the virtues of thrift. However, in this instance, it also provided a tasty chocolate wafer as reward to the youthful depositor.
     "Pinball Game Vending Bank" is unique to the category since it is not only a vending bank but also a game of chance. This aspect is demonstrated upon its activation. A coin is placed through the slot located to the left of the chimney (Figure 1). This causes the candy-dispensing drawer to open (refer to the bottom of Figure 2). One may also drop a steel ball through the bank's chimney, resulting in its bouncing randomly against the pins. If it exits through the top cup (center of Figure 3), the candy drawer will remain closed, If, by chance, it exits through the bottom cup (Figure 4), the candy drawer will open, dispensing a chocolate wafer. Coins are removed by opening a key-lock coin retainer located underneath the bank. Depleted chocolate wafers are replenished within the rectangular key-lock compartment seen in the back of the bank (Figure 2).
     To date, neither patent nor catalog information has surfaced to indicate either the manufacturer or country of origin of "Pinball Vending Bank". The lone wordage relating to this mechanical is imprinted upon a paper label (Figure 5) that was affixed to the bank's accompanying cardboard packing box. It reads: "AUTOMATIC BALL GAME SLOT MACHINE. WITH KEY, STEEL BALLAND REFILL. The machine locks at the back and underneath. The key and steel ball will be found in a small envelope enclosed in this box. S.D.L./9".
     It can only be presumed that "Pinball Vending" was produced in Germany, circa 1920-1930. This hypothesis is based upon design, construction, material (i.e. tinplate) and the plethora of similar Figure 4 chocolate wafer vending banks that were manufactured within Germany during this period.
     The decorative usage of cartoon-like, romanticized illustrations of young children adorning its facade may possibly offer a clue as to the manufacturer of "Pinball Vending Bank". Comparable illustrations are featured on another chocolate vending bank created during this era, namely "LEI: Chocolate Vending Bank" (Figures 6, 7, 8). This bank was created by noted toy manufacturer Hartwig and Vogel of Dresden, Germany.
     In most instances, early German tinplate banks lacked identification as to reveal their heritage. This usually was the case, unless such wordage was imprinted upon either the bank itself or in an advertisement, packing box, or catalog. Such historical voids were the result of early German Patent laws that mandated all patent documents protecting non-essential items, i.e. toys and mechanical banks, were to be routinely discarded after fifteen years of issuance.
     "Pinball Game Vending Bank" is constructed almost entirely of lithographed tinplate. The exception is a small glass pane set into its front facade. It is through this transparent window that we are able to view the descending steel ball as it randomly bounces against the internal pins.
     I am not aware of any structural variations of "Pinball Vending". However, Figure 9 depicts a decorative deviation, i.e. a clown theme rather than frolicking boys and girls.
     "Pinball Vending" is extremely scarce, as are most early German tinplate mechanicals. This may he attributed to fragile tinplate and glass construction as well as careless handling by former youthful proprietors.
     Despite its simplistic design and diminutive size, i.e. Height: 6-1/4 inches. Width: 3-1/16 inches, Depth: 2-1/16 inches, "Pinball Game Vending Bank" is a unique, attractive and highly desirable addition to a mechanical bank collection.

     Acknowledgment: The superb example "Pinball Game Vending Bank" (Figure 1) is in the collection of Bob Weiss.

     Correction: Refer to A.T.W.  article. September, 2002: "Tell Chocolate Cigarette Vending Bank". Due to unintelligible graphics. the article and bank were incorrectly titled. Its correct designation is "LEU Chocolate Cigarette Vending Bank".

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