Eagle and Eaglets Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - January, 1976

76-01.JPG (19214 bytes)

Our symbols of patriotism with their respective significance and meaning have always been a thing with the writer. Our Flag is a wonderful flag with beauty, distinction and dignity. The Statue of Liberty is an ever inspiring, really great statue. Well known or famous bells? What could ever take the place of the Liberty Bell and its very deep meaningful background. Uncle Sam, what a figure which his outfit in representation of our Flag and the inspiration he inspires. And then our Eagle, with its awesome courage and spirit, proud above all else. These symbols, patriotic representations, all come into sharp focus as we reach our Bicentennial Year of 1976. What more appropriate then for the January 1976 issue of HOBBIES than the Eagle And Eaglets Bank, our choice as No. 255 in the numerical classification.

The Eagle And Eaglets was made by the top manufacturer of mechanical banks, the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. It was patented by Charles M. Henn of Chicago, Ill., January 23, 1883. There’s not much to be said about the patent papers themselves. Stevens retained the basic principle of operation of the bank as outlined by the patent. Stevens did, however, make a number of changes in the configuration of the bank as compared to the patent drawings. The changes were definitely an improvement over the original patent drawings.

The Eagle And Eaglets enjoyed tremendous popularity and was one of the most popular of all mechanical banks. It was made in large quantities over a long period of time. As a toy bank it had a very pleasing appearance and was appropriate as a gift for either a boy or girl.

In spite of the large production of the Eagle And Eaglets, it is not a common bank to find today in fine to mint condition. It is considered to be one of the fairly common mechanicals, but this is not so if you want one in fine original paint with original whistling or chirping bellows and no repairs such as the one pictured. More often than not, one or both flapping wings of the large eagle do not operate properly or are broken inside. The baby eagles must rise from the nest and open their beaks, usually one or the other does not do so properly and requires repair. Also, it is a very light colored bank and the large eagle just didn’t stand too much handling being an off-white in color.

To operate the bank, the beak of the large eagle is opened manually and a coin placed therein. A lever under the tail of the eagle is pressed down. The eagle tilts forward lowering its wings and in so doing opens its beak, dropping the coin into the nest where the coin goes through a slot into the base of the bank. The baby eaglets lift up and open their beaks as though receiving food — the coin in this case representing the food. As this action takes place, the bellows inside emit a squeaking sound in simulation of chirping baby eagles. On releasing the lever all parts return to their respective positions as shown in the picture.

The colors of this very attractive bank are as follows: The large eagle is an all over off-white with black lines and markings on the upper side of the wings and back. He has glass eyes and his beak is a black-brown. His claws are brown and black. The baby eaglets are gray with black beaks. The nest is in shades of dark and light brown and tan. The base is an overall odd tan-gray color with highlights of green, yellow and black. The lever is brown and the animal peaking out under the eagle is orange with red mouth and black eyes. The base plate is edged in black and the underside is painted in the same odd tan-gray color as the base. The patent date of January 23, 1883 is cast in raised letters on the underside of the base. A conventional round Stevens trap is also in the base plate for removal of coins.

The writer has a fine original advertising card in color showing the "American Eagle" Bank. (Stevens’ name for the Eagle And Eaglets.) In this picture the animal under the eagle is plainly a fox and the lever is definitely a snake. On the actual bank the animal looks more like a pig and the lever a twig.

The inaccuracy of people in describing a mechanical bank just came to the writer’s mind when thinking about the Eagle And Eaglets. Years ago a woman wrote the writer that she had an unusual bank — ‘a chicken fighting a snake’. After a long drive and all pepped up with the possibility of a new find in a mechanical, what did she have but the Eagle And Eaglets! Believe it or not, she thought the eagle was a chicken and the branch-like lever a snake. The writer can go along with the ‘lever like a snake’ bit, but the eagle a chicken — never in his wildest imagination!