Grolier Building, 575 Lexington Avenue, New York 22, N.Y.
October 7, 1960
This is in answer to your letter of October 4th to Miss Ellen V. McLoughlin. Since she is not here today, and I know she would want you to receive a prompt reply, I, as her secretary, have taken the liberty of answering for her.
Enclosed is some information about antique mechanical coin banks. As you will see, on page 2, The Book of Knowledge reproductions are just like the originals because the exact same procedure as used in casting the originals is followed. The master molds have been made from our original antiques. And, you will note, each sand mold is used but once.
I am sorry I cannot furnish you with the address of the foundry which creates these reproductions. However, our Public Relations Department has given me the name and address of a gentleman who will be able to give you further details about our and other antique banks. So, if you wish, you can write to:
Mr. Lee Howard
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Some Facts About Antique American Mechanical Coin Banks
During the latter part of the 1800s, cast iron mechanical coin banks were a common sight in the American home. During these years, hundreds of different designs were manufactured and sold.
The theory of these ingenious coin banks was a practical one --- teach the children the habit of regular thrift by making saving fun. Most of these early American mechanical banks were humorous in design. "Slapstick" was the basis of many. Thus were created such "humorous?" activities as a cow kicking over a bucket of milk, a donkey kicking over a boy --- a small boy butted by a buffalo.
Some, however, were truly social commentaries. The Tammany Bank, for example, depicted the notorious Boss Tweed accepting money, placing it in his pocket, and nodding his thanks. The carpet-bagger is characterized in the "Stump Speaker Bank". Here, the plump political figure stands on a platform. The money placed in his hand is dropped by him into his carpet bag, which opens to receive it. The Stump Speaker than waggles his chin in grinning delight.
Then, as now, soldiers, guns and cannon intrigued young Americans. Thus we have banks such as the Creedmore", where a soldier shoots the coin into a tree; the Artillery Bank, where the coin is shot from a mortar into a fort; the William Tell Bank, where the coin shoots an iron apple from William Tells cast iron sons head. And many, many similar others. Some of these antique banks were souvenirs of happenings and events. Thus the "Independence Hall Bank" commemorated the 100th anniversary of Independence Day and the "Worlds Fair Bank" commemorated the Colombian Worlds Exposition of 1893.
Virtually all other facets of American Life; Sports. Business, Home-Life, Banking, were illustrated in these little mechanical gems. The amount of thought, effort, ingenuity and time which went into the creation of these banks were prodigious in relation to their original cost of $1.00 to $3.00 each. However, considering the value of the dollar in those days --- and considering how very little labor cost --- these banks were not inexpensive even then.
The processes used, of course, entirely by hand. First the ingenious mechanism was carefully worked out. Then the design was sculptured in clay and cast in a brass master. Sand molds were made of these brass masters --- and castings were made of hand poured molten iron. Each time a casting was made, the sand mold was destroyed in the process and a new one was made. The castings were then assembled (some of the banks contained 31 separate parts) by hand. They were then hand filed and carefully and beautifully hand painted.
A slow and laborious procedure, but what was time in those old days? With only minor deviations, this exact procedure has been followed in the production of the Book of Knowledge Antique American Coin Bank replicas. Master molds have been exactly made from the original antiques in the Book of Knowledge collection. These masters, however, are now made of aluminum instead of brass.
Now, as in yesteryear, sand molds are made of the master and the molten iron is hand poured into them. Now, as then, each sand mold is used but once it is destroyed in the casting and a new one is then made from the master.
Assembling and decoration is done by hand too. Thus, the Book of Knowledge reproductions not only look like the originals --- they are like the originals. It is this meticulous care, this attention to detail in product and procedure which limits the production of these antique replicas --- and consequently, is the reason why so few can be made available.
To further illustrate this attention to detail, the foundry which is creating these coin bank reproductions is the old Pennsylvania foundry which actually manufactured some of the original antiques. Generations of skill and know-how are the "priceless ingredients" of these 19th century coin bank replicas.
As stated in the Certificate of Authenticity, these are more than merely coin banks more than merely interesting toys. They are replicas of products of American skill, ingenuity and craftsmanship. They are indeed collector' items with historic interest and value. They should be treasured.
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