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Guessing Bank (Woman’s Figure)
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - April, 1972

72-04.JPG (16425 bytes)Following through with last month’s article on the Safe Deposit Bank, we are once again expressing our appreciation to Mrs. Gertrude Hegarty for the courtesies extended to the writer enabling him to pass along information on another very unusual mechanical bank from her excellent collection. The bank is the Guessing Bank (Woman’s Figure) and, of necessity, at this point No. 207 in the numerical classification. This bank shares the same name with, and could be considered a companion to, the more familiar Guessing Bank (HOBBIES, March 1962). As we shall see, beyond sharing the same name, they have very definite similarities, and in the writer’s opinion were manufactured in or near the same time.

From an appearance standpoint certain aspects of the woman’s figure would seem a little questionable with respect to its being a child’s toy savings device. However, we must remember that questionable liberties, in the area of being a child’s toy, exist with a number of the mechanicals. As example, there are two where a figure is thumbing its nose (Freedman’s and Pelican), a rat being served to a Chinaman on a tray (Chinaman In Boat), the definite Labor, Capitalist, Banker theme of the Bread Winners Bank, and others of varying and similar nature, all made and sold as a toy mechanical bank. We must also remember that certain time periods have a definite relationship to the subject matter of certain mechanical banks, particularly those just mentioned and possibly to the one under present discussion.

The bank shown is in extra fine all original condition. It was added to the Hegarty collection through the help of the late Frank Ball and, unfortunately, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, it is not definitely known just where Mr. Ball obtained the bank. This information may well have been of some help since we know little or nothing about the background of this bank. There are no markings or dates on the bank itself and we have no more to go on than its relationship to the other Guessing Bank. The writer knows of no old catalogs, patent papers, or anything else that relate to the bank. As with other mechanicals of unknown background, we are always hopeful that future or happenstance will shed some light on the matter.

The Guessing Bank pictured, as is the case with its companion named piece, is a very well made, finely detailed bank. Other than the cast iron square box-like coin container base, the entire upper part of the bank is cast in some type of white metal. This has sort of a gold tinge bronze finish thereon. The square cast iron base is black enamel. The numbers around the dial are white and the pointer is gold. Not too colorful a bank, but certainly a very attractive item.

To operate, a coin is dropped in the provided slot in the rounded top of the fluted column by the girl’s head. This causes the pointer to spin, and that’s it. Ostensibly if you previously guessed the proper number at which the pointer stops, you were paid five times the amount of your deposited coin. This is borne out by the wording that appears just under the dial, ‘Pays Five For One’ and further wording just under this, ‘If You Call The Number.’ The name ‘Guessing Bank’ is on the fluted column above the dial. The dial is surrounded by a wreath which affords a nice decorative effect. The somewhat enticing figure of the girl is a rather well endowed type, typical of the time, with the Lillian Russell hour-glass touch.

The base section is rather unusual with its provided method for removal of coins. It is made like a box with no top and is held in place by a bar going through the front and on through the back. A lock holds this bar in place in the back of the bank. Removing the lock with a key allows the bar to be pulled through from the front and the base container separates from the body of the bank. This is unique as a coin receptacle on a mechanical bank.

In closing it bears mention as to the specific similarities between the two Guessing Banks. Each has the same operation with similar mechanism inside. Each is made the same way and of the same metals. They share the same type finish and the same wording appears on each. Two things they do not share is rarity and a patent date. To the best of the writer’s knowledge, the Guessing Bank (Woman’s Figure) as pictured here is the only one known to exist in a collection. The other Guessing Bank, as explained in HOBBIES, March, 1962 article, has a patent date thereon, May 22, 1877.


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