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Memorial Money Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - August, 1971

71-08.JPG (14348 bytes)The Bicentennial in 1976 will be here for all practical purposes before we know it. The new 1971 Pennsylvania license plates are a considerable departure from past rather drab ones, having the Liberty Bell thereon and targeting in on the 1976 celebration (the present plates being used for the next five years). A recent trip to Philadelphia would indicate considerable contention between the pros and cons as to this important event and its center of activity centered in Philadelphia. Logically, of course, there just isn’t any place more apropos than the city of Philadelphia. And this takes us back to the 1876 Centennial held in this city. It was quite an event and many mementos of the occasion were made in commemoration. These included various banks and toys which are of considerable interest today.

A number of still banks were made in cast iron in the shape of the Liberty Bell and other fine stills in the form of Independence Hall. However, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, only one truly mechanical bank was produced to commemorate this important point in American History. And this bank is the Memorial Money Bank, No. 202 in the numerical classification.

The bank shown is in unusually good original condition and has been in the writer’s collection for quite a few years. It is a difficult item to find in good original paint, transfers legible, the eagle on top with original wings, and the original paper label on the bottom. The bank pictured has these points in its favor.

As to color, the base, bell, and eagle on top are gold. The base of the eagle has a blue and red stripe around it. A transfer in black lettering on the Liberty Bell reads "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All The Land Unto All The Inhabitants Thereof. Lev. XXV, 10. By order of the Assembly of the Province of Penna. for the State House in the city of Philadelphia. Pass and Stow, Philad, MDCCLIII." The bell rests on a square decorative base with a circular top. In the circle appears an eagle and flags in colors. Around and in the circle gold lettering is as follows: "The Liberty Bell 1776 – Proclaim Liberty Throughout The Land. Let It Proclaim Peace and Unity in 1876." Then around the circle are red stars and a blue line. In each corner of the top of the base is an eagle. On the four sides of the base are the following buildings pictured by transfers – "Memorial Hall," "Machinery Hall," "Horticultural Hall," and "Main Exhibition Building." Under these pictures on the four sides is a red stripe and a green stripe.

The paper label on the under base is of considerable interest. First appears in large letters "Memorial Money Bank," and under this "1876." We now quote the text as follows:

"The Bell mounted on the Money Bank, represents the old Liberty Bell which was originally cast in England in 1751, at a cost of one hundred pounds sterling; was ordered to be of two thousand pounds weight and to have the following inscription: ‘By order of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania for the State House in the City of Philadelphia 1752.’ Also ‘Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land to the inhabitants thereof.’

"Before the Bell was properly hung it was cracked by a stroke of the clapper to try the sound, and it was recast in this country by Pass & Stow of this city who were compelled to remix the metal, as the original mixture was found to be too brittle; it was finished and hung in June 1753; but the most important event in its history is that upon Monday, the 8th of July, 1776, at twelve o’clock noon, it rang to proclaim the Birth of a Nation upon the basis that all men are born free and equal.

"In 1777, at the time the American forces were compelled to evacuate Philadelphia this Bell together with Christ Church Chimes were removed to Allentown, to prevent them from being melted into Cannon by the English; at the close of the war, it was returned to the City, and continued in constant use until 1827 when it was replaced by the present Bell. The Bell was broken in ringing for a fire one murky morning, but it had done its work, and for many years occupied a place among the relics in the Independence Chamber. In 1872 it was placed where it now is in the vestibule of the State House, upon its original timbers."

One can readily see that the paper label in relation to this bank has considerable importance. It’s just not the directions on how to operate the bank or something of that nature as is the usual case where a paper label is concerned. Please understand any and all original paper labels are important, but in the case of the Memorial Money Bank even more so.

The operation of the bank is quite simple. A coin is pushed into the partially opened front slot. The coin pushes back a spring positioned lever, which, when the coin is forced into the bank, causes the lever to spring forward ringing a dome shaped bell suspended inside the Liberty Bell.


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