PINBALL GAME VENDING BANK
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
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
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".