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Church of Our Lady, Semi-mechanical Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine May, 2014

THIS MONTH'S selection for discussion is a very unique bank and one that occupied a dark and tragic place in time. "Church Of Our Lady" semi- mechanical bank (Figure 1) also differs from many other toy penny banks in the very ease in which its heritage has been determined.
     Generally, historians and collectors of these objects are able to research and document the history of a particular example. Patent papers, magazine ads, manufacturers' catalogs, etc. provide helpful and vital information necessary to accomplish the task. The one piece of the ancestral puzzle that is most often missing is the knowledge of where and when a subject had actually existed in history. This article's subject does not pose such a dilemma.
     The aforementioned ease of historical identification of "Church Of Our Lady" bank (Figure 1) is the printed inscription on the commemorative paper label affixed
to its underside, as seen in Figure 2. It reads as follows:
"ZUR ER I NNERUNG AN DIE STADT der REICHSPARTEITAGE 1934, NURNBERG", and is translated to "Commemorating the First National Socialist Reichs Party (Nazi) Convention held in Nurnberg in 1934". Figure 3 is a photograph of Adolph Hitler presiding over a Nazi Party Convention, with the Ntirnberg Church of Our Lady in the background.
     "Church Of Our Lady" semi-mechanical bank was manufactured by the George Kellermann Toy Factory, Nurnberg, Germany. The company operated from 1910 until 1979 and was regarded as one of the foremost German producers of finely lithographed, tin plate, clockwork toys. A page from a George Kellermann catalog (Figure 4), circa 1926, pictures the "Church Of Our Lady" bank with "non-mechanical, hand activated rotating figures'" and having no clockwork mechanism.
     The catalog page also describes another Kellermann creation, that being "The Church of Our Lady" clockwork toy, seen in Figure 5. This toy utilizes a key wind, spring driven motor in order to activate the mechanically driven rotating figures.
     Several years ago I had shown the example "Church Of Our Lady" bank (Figure 1) to the noted German penny bank historian, museum curator and collector, Mr. Gerhard Riegraf, now deceased. Mr. Riegraf, of Affalterbach, Germany, was asked for his expert opinion and input regarding historical information pertinent to the subject of discussion. This gentleman's subsequent correspondence revealed a number of interesting facts. His letter reads as follows: "Your bank is a replica of the Frauenkirche (Woman's Church) located at the main market square in Nurnberg. It was built in the 12th century in the Scechoslowakian Gothic style. Every year at Christmas time, the church bell rings and the Seven Holy Prince Electors of the Roman Empire pay homage to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV, by entering on a circular platfhrm, through a portal to the right of the seated Emperor, passing before him and exiting through a portal to his left" (refer to Figure 6). Mr. Riegraf then translated the words on the paper label (refer to the aforementioned translation).
     Action of "Church Of Our Lady" bank is both entertaining and relevant to the subject. Insertion of a coin through the designated slot elicits no mechanical action, thus categorizing it as "semi-mechanical". In order to rotate the seven Prince Electors so they may circle the Emperor a small wooden knob, located on the roof of the church, is turned manually. (It should be noted that, for the "Church Bank" to have been regarded as a mechanical, insertion of a coin would result in movement automatically to the Seven Electors). Deposits are removed by opening a key lock, trap door coin retainer located underneath the base (Figure 2).
     Action of the "Woman Church Toy" (Figure 5) is amusing, and a more accurate mechanical representation of our subject. Operation of the toy requires that its clockwork mechanism must first be wound, utilizing an attached key located underneath its base. A small round wooden knob protruding from the rear facade of the Church is gently nudged upward. At this point an internal bell chimes, the hands of the clock move, and the Seven Holy Electors emerge from the right portal. pass before the seated Emperor and exit through the left portal.
     Despite their diminutive sizes (i.e. Height: 5-15/16 inches, Width: 4-1/4 inches), both "Church of Our Lady, Semi-Mechanical Bank" and "Church Of Our Lady Toy" (Figures 1 and 5 respectively) are extremely rare. They are both interesting and attractive additions to a Mechanical Bank, Still Bank or Toy collection.

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