OLD TIME PENNY BANKS
by Andrew Emerine
EVEN a youngster with no particular desire to save, sixty years ago, must have been thrilled when he received a new mechanical savings bank. It probably seemed to him well worth putting the precious penny into custody when as a result the girl skipped rope, the whale cast up Jonah or "the merry-go-round went round."
There were over two hundred different varieties of mechanical banks made. The majority of them were of cast iron, a few of tin, most of them were decorated in bright colored paint and each one did its own clever trick.
These very attractive and interesting old time mechanical toys of sixty years ago, which were sold from the General Store at one and two dollars each, are today in much demand and are a very important collectors’ item. Much like coins or many other articles of antiquity there exists only a limited number of the rarer varieties, and these have a given rating as to price and value according to their number or scarcity. Many banks have advanced in value to one hundred percent over their original cost.
About seventy-five percent of the surviving production known to exist is in the hands of some ten or twelve outstanding collectors. All of these collections are quite valuable, and not unlike a valuable oil painting or any other choice antique, in the event of loss from any cause, it would be impossible to replace them.
One might say, why not reproduce these old time banks. To be sure this has already been done, but reproductions are detected as readily as a counterfeit half dollar.
It will be interesting to see what the future may develop in another fifty years for these rugged old penny grabbers.