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The Two Standing Bear Banks
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - November, 1971

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Recently a select group of items from the Kenton Hardware Company’s sample room became available and this proved to be a rather informative occasion with interest centered on the items themselves. These included some still banks, toy cannon, and in particular a mechanical bank. The bank is the Bear Standing (Slot in Chest) and is pictured on the left in the photo.

Let’s go back to November, 1965, for the moment and the issue of HOBBIES for that date. This issue contained the article covering the Bear Standing, and at that time no factual background on the bank had been established and was so stated in the article. Further, the bank was attributed to either Stevens or Kenton as being the manufacturer. Well there would seem to be no question now but that the Bear Standing was definitely a Kenton product. It was in their sample or display room for years along with other toys, banks, and so on that they manufactured. It just remained unnoticed and only recently, on the above mentioned occasion, the facts surrounding this particular mechanical bank came to light.

The sample example has a special finish in bronze plate, as did a number of their other display pieces, as well as some of their regular production toys. In its period, as has been mentioned before, this type finish was considered something special and of premium quality as compared to the regular painted type. No doubt Kenton displayed this Bear with its special finish for this very reason. In any case, it is the only one the writer has ever seen or knows of with the bronze plate finish.

The Bear pictured on the right is the same one shown in the November, 1965, article. It has the usual light tan overall paint with brown eyes and nose and a red mouth. The writer uses the term "usual" as this is the only way he has seen authentic examples of the bank painted. The two banks shown are identical with the exception of their respective finishes, and in closing this out for the present we are now just about as sure as we can be that the Bear Standing is a Kenton mechanical bank.

* * *

JOHN D. MEYER

We regretfully inform our readers of the death of John D. Meyer, the last of the older pioneer collectors of mechanical banks. Mr. Meyer had been a patient in Tyrone Hospital since May 7, of this year and died there September 1, after a long illness. He was 97 at the time.

Mr. Meyer started collecting mechanical banks in 1938 and the nucleus of his collection was a Tammany Bank which had been given to him when he was a small boy. This bank passed through the family to his niece, then to her three girls, and then was given back to Mr. Meyer where it became the cause or inspiration of his becoming a collector of mechanical banks.

In 1948, he published a book titled "A Handbook Of Old Mechanical Penny Banks", and Mr. Meyer lived to see his book actually become a collector’s item. The book certainly helped the hobby considerably and the writer well remembers the great amount of time that Mr. Meyer spent in getting it together.

During the 10-year period of his starting to collect banks until the publication of his book he was particularly active in his hobby and formulated a fine collection including a number of rarities such as the Freedman’s Bank, Presto Savings Bank, Snake And Frog In Pond, Royal Trick Elephant, Clown On Bar, and others. He continued the activity of his hobby up until fairly recent years.

In addition to mechanical banks, Mr. Meyer also had an interest in and collected to a more limited extent clocks, music boxes, ruby glass, coin glass, and to some extent, coins.

A bachelor, Mr. Meyer spent the greater part of his life in Tyrone, Pa., and resided in the First National Bank Building, Tyrone. He had many and varied interests and was a banker by profession, which career he began in 1909. In 1921 he was named Vice President of the Board, and as a Director retired at the age of 89.

John, as the writer was privileged to call him, will be missed by his many fellow mechanical bank collectors. He was the last of the old line pioneers who started their collections when they were mid-age men.

 

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