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by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine October, 2013

AVID COLLECTORS OF mechanical banks have been known to develop a desire for increased knowledge of their cast iron marvels. Such collectors voraciously seek information pertaining to historical documentation of these ingenious coin-receptacle devices.
     The pursuit of information relating to the design, manufacture, and marketing of mechanical banks has certainly been a pathway to extending the list of collectibles. Included are such items as patent papers, catalogs, trade cards, wooden packing boxes, patterns, and original patent models. An example of one of these, namely, an original patent model entitled "Patronize The Blind Man And His Dog", subject of this article, is seen in Figure 1.
     The history of all antique mechanical banks began with the birth of an idea. In most instances, this was translated into a conceptual linear sketch. A working model is then created, utilizing either wood, or tin, or brass, or another practical medium. The resultant model, accompanied by appropriate documentation and a highly detailed description, are presented to the United States Patent Office. The purpose is to acquire legal protection for the creator's idea, as seen by the patent papers represented in Figure 2.
     Actual construction of the mechanical bank was then initiated with the creation of a highly detailed working wooden model, referred to as a "pattern". Each of its wood sections and parts was then used to create a sand mold. A molten lead alloy was poured into this mold to create an exact working, lead duplicate of its wood predecessor. This lead pattern was further re-tooled, detailed, and enhanced, Figure 5 followed by painstaking refinements to each section. The lead pattern, having been sufficiently prepared, was utilized in the creation of another sand mold into which molten brass was poured.
     The external details and internal mechanism of the resultant brass model, or pattern, were further refined. It was this refined brass duplicate that became the "master" pattern, lending its likeness and usage to all future cast iron mechanical banks.
     "Patronize The Blind Man And His Dog" was the brainchild of William H. Lotz, a resident of Chicago, Illinois. He was granted Patent Number 200,402 for his invention and design on February 19, 1878. The philosophical attributes of charity and thrift were clearly stated by Mr. Lotz in these patent papers (Figure 2), as demonstrated by the following: "F. represents the image of a kneeling man, stretching forth his hands as if begging charity". The several views of Mr. Lotz's brass patent model (seen in Figures 1,3,4) most aptly illustrate his initial, idealistic concept of the embodiment of a viable, producible mechanical bank (refer to Figures 5, 6). "Patronize The Blind Man And His Dog" was ultimately manufactured by the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut. Comparison of the patent model (Figures 1, 3, 4) to the final production bank (Figures 5, 6) indicates the Stevens Company deviated visually, cosmetically and, to some extent, conceptually from Mr. Lotz's patent. Interestingly, Mr. Lotz did not portray the kneeling beggar as a blind man, as indicated by Stevens' interpretation and the designation of its name.
     Action of the working brass patent model (Figure 1) and the actual production bank (Figures 5, 6) is ingenious and amusing. A coin is placed between the beggar's hands; a radial arm lever attached to the dog's body, seen in Figure 3, is nudged forward. The dog then opens its mouth as it moves along the track, and grasps the coin held between the beggar's hands. It then continues 0 upon its trip, depositing the money through a void in the side of the peaked roof building. Coins are retrieved via a small round opening in the base of the bank (Figure 4).
     There are no casting variations of the "Patronize Bank"; however, there are two color variations, as seen in Figures 5 and 6. Collectors refer to these as the "Yellow" (Figure 5) and "Blue" (Figure 6) variants, which pertain specifically to coloration of the name designation tablet.
     It is one quite fortunate collector who is in the enviable position of possessing, not only the original "Patronize The Blind Man And His Dog" Patent Model seen in Figures 1, 3, 4, but also a pristine example of each color variant of the production bank (Figures 5, 6). No need to guess his identity, since the aforementioned model and mechanical banks can be viewed at the Kidd Toy Museum, Frank and Joyce Kidd Proprietors.

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