The Hillman Coin Target Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - December, 1977

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A really unusual mechanical bank is our choice as No. 269 in the numerical classification. It is the only one the writer knows of in a collection, it comes under the category of a new find, and, of course, it belongs further up in the listing at this point in time. The bank is the Hillman Coin Target Bank, and it is not only unusual, but impressive as to size, measuring 15 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 10 inches high. That’s some size mechanical bank.

The bank is made of oak, cast iron and glass. It was manufactured by M. Siersdorfer & Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The name of the bank and the manufacturer is cast in raised letters on the end cast iron section that holds the pistol in place. On the wood base just under the pistol there is a metal plate inscribed: M. SIERSDORFER & CO. MFR’S., CINCINNATI, O. PAT. APL’D. FOR. On the other end there is a box like container made of cast iron and beveled glass. Two pieces of glass inside partition this section into three compartments. There is a lever in the back side, and when turned the bottom of the three sections open so coins can drop into the sectional drawer coin container in the base. This drawer opens from the end under the box like container.

There is an enclosed target on the face of the box like container. A large slot in the middle is #1, and smaller slots on each side are #2 and #3. The half glass and half cast iron section between the pistol and the target serves two purposes — it keeps the coins from flying all over the place on misses, and it has a long slot in the bottom so misses are deposited in a large section of the drawer coin container.

To operate the bank, a coin is placed in the provided slot section on the pistol. The hammer of the pistol is pulled back for firing, aim is taken for one of the target slots, and the trigger pulled, shooting the coin to the target.

The bank is pictured and described in an 1895-96 catalog of Samuel Nafew & Company of New York and Chicago. This company handled coin gambling devices and used to reward the operator with drinks, cigars or money. The Coin Target Bank was utilized by the Nafew Company as a gambling device, rather than a bank for saving money. A misprint in their catalog lists it as the ‘Coin Target Blank’ ‘Hit the Bull’s Eye for a Cigar’. Below the picture of the bank appears the following:

‘Place your coin in the pistol, take aim and shoot. If it goes through one of the three openings you will be rewarded according to number of cigars called for on the prize card which we furnish with each machine. Price $9.00 each.’

So here we have a bank that served the double purpose as a gaming or gambling machine.

The background of the company that made the bank has a certain interest and we are indebted to the Cincinnati Historical Society for the following information:

M. Siersdorfer & Company appears in the Cincinnati directory for the first time in 1890 as patent specialty manufacturers at 130 West Pearl Street. The firm was made up of Michael Siersdorfer and Isaac Kinsey. The firm broke up or went out of business in late 1890 or early 1891, became in 1891 Kinsey & Siersdorfer at 217 West Fourth Street. Then in 1893-94 M. Siersdorfer & Company re-appears at 39 East Fifth Street, again as manufacturers of patented specialties. The firm again dissolved or went on the rocks in late 1894 or 95, because from 1895 on M. Siersdorfer is listed as an agent for siphons, and there is no listing of the firm after 1894.

The bank shown is from the fine collection of Ed Mosler and is in all original condition and operates properly. It is an imposing unusual piece and even though it was used here and there as a chance gaming device, there is no question as to its being a bank as it so says right on the piece itself.