Fortune Teller Savings Bank (Original Label)
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - February, 1974

74-02.JPG (20001 bytes)The Fortune Teller Savings Bank is one of the less attractive mechanicals since it is a rather plain nickel plated safe type bank. This opinion seems to be pretty general among most collectors of mechanical banks. The writer has never heard anyone say they particularly liked the Fortune Teller Savings. There has been, however, at least one example of this bank having a most attractive original paper label on the back. This particular example of the bank had considerable interest to the writer and at long last it has finally come into his possession.

Smith’s Antiques of Mt. Union, Pa., purchased the bank at an antique show in 1963. They, in time, sold it to one of the old line collectors where it remained for some years, more or less, under wraps and unnoticed. Be that as it may, we are now able to picture the back of this particular Fortune Safe, which is the only one known to the writer with the original paper label intact.

To begin with, there are several variations of the Fortune Teller Safe — some having design work on the top plate — some a plain top plate. Others have design work on the operating lever. Also, there are examples having the date "Pat Feb 19, 1901" on the bottom, while others simply have "Pat" on the underplate. In any case, the writer does not know if all known examples of the bank originally had a paper label on the back. The smooth back plate would indicate this to be the case, however, it is entirely possible that the label was used only for a certain length of time during the manufacturing period of the bank. Another factor to keep in mind is the fact the smooth nickel-plated back plate did not lend itself to anything sticking thereon with any degree of permanency.

The label as pictured just about covers the entire back plate of the safe. In size it measures 3 inches wide by 3 inches long. A peaceful country scene is shown with two brown horses and a covered wagon in the background of green trees. A pitched tent is to the right, and to the left, a dog is running after a small boy. Two ladies are seated in the foreground, one wearing a yellow puffed sleeve blouse with red skirt and hat and holding a blue umbrella in her right hand, the other wears a red dress and yellow hat. They are seated before a barrel on top of which is the Fortune Teller Safe. The woman on the right has a coin in her left hand ready to insert in the bank. The name of the bank (above the scene) is in red, and the date ‘Patented Feb. 19 –1901’ is in black. The section under the scene has the directions for operating the bank. The background is green and the decorative outline part with the directions is yellow. The directions in black are:

"Drop the coin in the slot of the lever. 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."

At the bottom of the red border of the label appears "MF’G’D By Baumgarten & Co., Baltimore, U.S.A." Please note in the directions after the first sentence a hand is pictured holding a coin. This can be seen in the photo.

That’s it for this important label which most certainly adds interest and some attraction to the Fortune Teller Savings Bank. As a matter of fact, this is the only mechanical that, in the writer’s opinion, looks better and should be displayed with the back showing rather than the front. For more information on the bank itself and a front view, please see HOBBIES, December 1968, classification article. Also the January 1964, HOBBIES announced the discovery of the interesting example of the bank pictured herewith.