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by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine September, 2012

A 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 subject.
     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 flower" appearance.
     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: 6-5/8 inches.

     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 coin.
     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 pointer.
     Acknowledgment: The fine example "Crescent Cash Register" (Figure 5) is within the mechanical bank collection of Bob Weiss.

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