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Betsy Ross Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - August, 1976

76-08.JPG (9833 bytes)

The Bicentennial has resulted in an avalanche of items commemorating this historical event. The majority of these would seem to range from not too good on up to some rather interesting pieces, these better pieces being on the minority side. In either or any case, they range all over the map as to what they are (dishes, medals, figures, toys, spoons, etc.) and the materials of which they are made (wood, glass, china, plastic, and various metals).

One of the more interesting items coming out in this Bicentennial Year of 1976 is a mechanical bank, and a nice one at that. Interesting is the fact that it is not just a Bicentennial item but rather initially issued during this period with its own identity for the future. In other words, it is not just a Bicentennial commemorative item or souvenir per se.

The bank is the Betsy Ross and full credit for its creation and the whole bit goes to Al Davidson, a fellow collector with a great interest in mechanical banks and a very nice collection of same. Al spent a lot of time and effort getting this bank together, from designing through model to working pattern to actual bank itself. This involved a number of procedures and various experimental trials and errors. The bank, for example, made completely of cast iron turned out to be too heavy, clumsy and unwieldy as are several of the mechanicals issued in recent times. So Al decided to reach a sensible compromise by having the base made in cast iron and the figure with flag in aluminum. This combination gives it just the right heft for a mechanical of its size and proportion.

The bank is limited to a production of 500 and each bank will have this cast in the base plate as well as its own respective number. It is scheduled to be available in the approximate time area of the appearance of this article.

The bases will all be painted the same in a dark maroon color. The dress worn by Betsy Ross will be available in earth colors of yellow, green or blue typical of her actual period in time. The name on the front of the bank is in gold with the needle and thread under the name in silver and white. The flag, of course, will be red, white and blue. Arms, hands and face of the figure are natural flesh color with well done facial features. Her bonnet is white as are certain parts of her dress. The sewing basket is a dark brown, her seat a lighter brown, and the cat in back is black. It is an attractive bank with quality paint work and exceptionally smooth casting.

To operate, a coin is placed in the top of the sewing basket. This will accommodate pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. A lever in the back is pressed and on so doing the figure and flag swing to the left (Betsy pivots or turns at her waist line). The recessed top of the sewing basket tilts causing the coin to slide inside the bank. The figure is reset manually for each operation.

Figure 1 shows the bank ready for operation. Figure 2 pictures the bank after the operation. Figure 3 is a side rear view showing the black cat and other details.

Cast on the underside front of the base plate is the following:

"A Needle Fights For Freedom"
Betsy Ross Bicentennial Bank
Limited Edition (Number)

Al Davidson’s signature appears in a rectangular recessed section on the rear underside of the base.

Two foundries in different locations are used in the casting. The tumbling, assembly, and painting operations are each in different locations making an interesting challenge for Al in turning out a quality mechanical bank. For those interested in obtaining a Betsy Ross Bank, write to:

Mr. Al Davidson
100 West Industry Court
Deer Park, N.Y. 11729


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