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A Tribute to Frank Ball
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - January, 1964

It was with deep regret the writer learned of the death of Mr. F. L. Ball the morning of October 31, 1963. Frank, as he was known to his many friends and associates, will be sorely missed; he was a real gentleman and it was always a pleasure to be in his company.

Frank was a great asset to the hobby of collecting mechanical banks and cast iron toys and was one of the early pioneers in this field. He increased the dealing phase in these items more actively after his retirement as an executive with a New England utilities firm. He bought and sold over the years from his home and then in a place he fondly referred to as The Loft. In recent years he was associated with F.A.O. Schwarz of New York City. They formed an antique toy department and Mr. Ball’s activities were centered around this division of the Schwarz Company.

In past years Frank handled a number of the fine rare mechanical banks and some of the best of the cast iron toys. The writer vividly recalls one trip in particular to Cambridge a few years ago. At the time Frank had available the large size Ives cast iron pull train in complete and fine condition, and a three seated Hubley brake, complete and original with all figures, and several other excellent toys. In addition, of course, there were varieties of other type cast iron toys and a good representative group of mechanical banks. Some of the best pieces collectors have in their respective collections, particularly so in cast iron toys, came to them through the good help of Frank Ball.

Frank was a most conscientious person and he always tried to be fair in his dealings. He will be greatly missed by his many friends and admirers, particularly those who collect mechanical banks and cast iron toys.

An Interesting Discovery
A most interesting and informative experience occurred recently on the occasion of the writer’s visit to the Churchill Country Club antique show. Smiths’ Antiques of Mt. Union, Pa., brought with them a Fortune Teller Savings Bank that Mrs. Smith had purchased at another show several months prior to this show. The Fortune Teller Savings Bank has been a more or less unknown quantity since the only wording on the bank, other than the name, are the letters "PAT" on the underside bottom of the safe. The Smiths’ example of this bank, however, is in complete, fine, original condition including the original paper label which covers the entire back of the large safe. This is something the writer had never seen and the label is of great interest, informative, and most attractive.

The large center section of the label is a decorative picture. Above this appears "Fortune Teller Savings Bank Patented Feb. 19, 1901." Below the picture are the directions as follows:

"Directions – Drop the coin in the slot of the lever." (Here appears the picture of a hand holding a coin over the lever slot.) Then push the lever back hard and quick. This will spin the wheel of fortune. When the wheel stops, pull the lever forward as far as possible and your true fortune will appear at the window every time."

Across the bottom of the label appears, "Mfg’d. by Baumgarten & Co., Baltimore, U.S.A."

The large center picture is a country scene of two women in old fashioned puffed sleeve dresses sitting in chairs out in the open. A barrel is represented as a table between them. On the barrel top sets the Fortune Teller Savings Bank, and one of the women is inserting a coin therein. In the background of the picture there is a tent with a coal stove inside; to the left of this, among some trees, is a prairie schooner type wagon with two unhitched horses.

The entire label is done in bright attractive colors of red, green, blue, brown, yellow and so on. Frankly speaking the label adds measurably to this bank since it is a rather plain nickel plated safe type bank and not particularly attractive in itself. The writer will pass along further information regarding the Fortune Teller Savings Bank at the time of the regular classification article.

 

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