CRESCENT CASH REGISTER
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – September, 2012
PENNY SAVED IS A penny earned". "Save for a rainy day". Proverbs such as
these were meaningful, wise lessons taught to youngsters in an earlier
America. The creation of toy penny banks was an entertaining and
appealing means designed to encourage thrift and frugality.
The period spanning 1869 to 1935 saw the birth of greater than five
hundred different mechanical banks. Subjects were diverse, ranging from
circus performances, sports, architecture, children at play, historical
events, animals and birds, various occupations, etc.
However, and surprisingly, one commonplace object, that of the
utilitarian cash register, appears to have rarely been utilized as a
What would more aptly represent a toy mechanical savings bank than
this classic mercantile appliance? Although numerous toy "registering
banks" were produced in the image of cash registers (Figure 1), none
qualify for the designation "mechanical bank". (Refer to footnote.) To
date, only a scant four different "mechanical" examples are known to
have been produced worldwide. These were "Model Savings Bank" (Figure
2), "Cash Register" (Figure 3), "National Your Savings" (Figure 4), and
our subject, this article, "Crescent Cash Register" (Figure 5).
To date, no information pertaining to patent or catalog has
surfaced to reveal the designer and/or manufacturer of "Crescent Cash
Register". The lone clue that offers any hint as to the bank's heritage
may possibly be its surface decor and material, i.e. nickel-plated, cast
iron. A similar, although non-mechanical, style cash register bank was
also constructed of nickel-plated cast iron (seen in Figure 6). This
"still type" penny bank (refer to footnote) is entitled "Junior" Cash
Banks and is illustrated in a J. and E. Stevens Company Export Catalog,
Number 51, circa 1915-1920. Its similarities of surface design,
appearance, and composition, have led collectors to speculate that
"Crescent Cash Register" had also been a creation of the J. and E.
Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut.
Action of "Crescent Cash Register" is apropos to the subject. A
single coin, either one cent, five cents, ten cents, or twenty-five
cents is placed into its designated slot. Simultaneously, as the key
beneath the occupied slot is depressed, the coin is deposited into the
bank accompanied by the ringing sound of a bell. Deposits are retrieved
by opening a combination lock coin drawer located at the front of the
bank (Figure 7).
"Crescent Cash Register" is considered scarce, and especially when
found in unbroken, complete and working condition. This is not
surprising when one considers its extremely vulnerable keys and easily
damaged or lost combination lock cash drawer. Finding a complete and
operational example, such as seen in Figure 5, can prove a challenging
task for even the most resourceful of collectors.
There are two variants of "Crescent Cash Register". Both are
manufactured almost entirely of bright nickel-plated, cast iron, with
either a partial or full sheet steel back plate. The obvious difference
relates solely to its size. The example pictured in Figure 5 is three
quarters of an inch taller than its sibling. Most other design elements
of both are almost identical.
Sadly, "Crescent Cash Register" has been overlooked by those
collectors seeking more colorful and decorative mechanicals. However,
its bright, polished, highly detailed intaglio surface belies a "wall
At this writing, I am not aware of the existence of' reproductions
of "Crescent Cash Register" (Figure 5). If a recast was attempted its
base would appear approximately one-eighth inch smaller than its actual
dimensions, i.e. Width: 5-15/16 inches. Depth: 4-1/2 inches. Height:
Footnote: An "antique mechanical bank" is defined as a toy savings
device manufactured for sale prior to 1935. It performs a mechanical
function that is either activated by, or dependent upon, deposition of a
A "semi-mechanical bank" is generally defined as an animated
savings device whose action is totally independent of coin deposit. The
sole action of a "coin-registering bank" is the automatic numerical
identification or sum of deposited coin(s) via a small window or a dial
Acknowledgment: The fine example "Crescent Cash Register" (Figure 5) is
within the mechanical bank collection of Bob Weiss.