Four Fine Harper Banks
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - October, 1978

78-10.JPG (18904 bytes)In recent times we have mentioned that we would picture a Harper bank or two and we are doing so now. One very unusual feature of Harper banks should be pointed out at this time. They, in most cases the writer knows of, have the word ‘copyright’ imprinted or cast on each bank. This is a unique situation for any kind of a bank, still or mechanical, since if a protective measure was desired a patent was taken out, not a copyright. So this in itself sort of sets the Harper banks in a position all their own.

Now to the pictures and the four banks shown. In Figure 1, the Red Riding Hood is on the left and Board Of Trade on the right. Red Riding Hood is the most desirable of the safe type Harper banks and quite rare. The figures are on the back of the safe representation. Red Riding Hood has a red cape and outfit and other clothes in silver, the wolf a red mouth and silver eye. All the rest of the bank is black, including the wolf.

The Board Of Trade is probably the most desirable of all still banks. It has everything going for it, including the fact this is the only example known to exist to date. The name appears in gold on the front. The base is green, the bag silver, and the bull and bear are black with red mouths and silver eyes. The Harper name, word copyright, and date 1905 appear on the lower back of the base. The coin slot is in the back at the base of the bag. The casting of the bank is in excellent detail and extra finely done. A really great bank.

In Figure 2, the I Made Chicago Famous pig is on the left and Billy Possum on the right. The pig is an all over black with lettering in gold; his hooves and tip of nose are silver. Keep in mind that black and silver are typical of Harper banks. On the front side (shown) appear ‘I MADE CHICAGO FAMOUS’, and under this along his belly ‘COPYRTD’. On the other side is ‘CHICAGO HARDWARE CO.’, and along the belly the date ‘1902’. This Harper bank has the additional interest of being an advertising item.

Finally, we have Billy Possum and he is black and silver with gold lettering and gold taters. The name appears on the front as shown. In the same position on the other side appears ‘POSSUM & TATERS’. On the underside bottom edge is the wording ‘J. M. HARPER COPYRIGHT 1909’. This bank is a great depiction of a possum with realistic detail. As with most Harper banks, it is a finely detailed casting.

There you have it for now — Harper banks are not easy to come by and they are among the most interesting of the stills. They offer a great challenge to the collector of still banks.