Antique Toy Banks

Toy banks fall into two main categories: Mechanical Banks and Still Banks. Within those categories are subcategories of collecting. Banks are composed of different materials such as cast iron, lead, tin, wood or pottery. Banks may be manufactured by a company or handmade. They can be antique, reproductions of antiques or entirely new and original creations. They are collected also by subject matter of the bank.

Our interest is principally in antique cast iron mechanical banks but we carry other types of banks also.

We guarantee all banks that we offer to be original as described. We offer a full and prompt refund if you are not satisfied and if the item is returned in the same condition within 3 days of receipt.

Add 6% sales tax to the price for any item listed on our website if picked up in Pennsylvania or delivered to any address within Pennsylvania unless buyer provides a valid PA resale number.

  • Mechanical Banks
  • Still Banks
  • Bank Collecting guidelines
  • Questions & Answers about Mechanical Banks

Girl Skipping Rope Mechanical Bank

Girl Skipping Rope Mechanical BankOriginal old Girl Skipping Rope cast iron keywind clockwork mechanical bank. This is quite a large & impressive bank. The bank measures 8 3/4" tall with rope in upright position. The bank is 8" long by 5 3/8" deep. This bank sure gets my vote as one of the most amazing cast iron Victorian masterpieces ever designed. The advanced level of the extremely ornate designs are very pleasing to the eye.

For a slide show of six views of the bank, click the image of the bank on the right.

The action is quite delightful. The bank is wound with the key. When the lever is pressed the coin falls into the bank. Then the girl skips rope moving up & down in a realistic manner as her legs, head, & the rope move. I have tested the bank a few times. She jumps from between 4 1/2 to 8 times apparently depending either on her personal mood &/ or the mood of the mechanism.

The bank was designed by James H. Bowen who was issued patent Number 428,450 on May 20, 1890. The bank was manufactured by the J. & E. Stevens Toy Company of Cromwell, Connecticut. The example herein offered has lots of original paint.

The bank has the following flaws: The base has three thin & mostly tight hairline cracks. Two are under the base at the edges of the leaves. One of these is 1/4" long & the other is 3/8" long. These are quite subtle when looking under the base of the bank as they are fairly tight. These are very difficult to see when looking at the top of the base.

The third hairline crack measures approximately 1 1/8" long. This hairline partly is visible & is fairly subtle on the top of the base where only 3/8" shows. The balance of the hairline on the bank runs under the bank & is extremely tight in a curve in the casting under the bank. Even at a fairly close glance only the 3/8" section of the crack is easily visible.

Very close examination with a magnifying glass is required to spot the balance of the hairline. This hairline is located at the curved indention of the base in front of the tiny leaf which is just to the viewer's left of the upright casing. There is some very old overpaint on the face of the girl which is intermingled with numerous vestiges of the original facial paint.

The two screws which hold the red & green casing castings together are quite old. But, they are not original to the bank having been replaced at sometime in the bank's past history. The large rotating wheel inside in the mechanism is original & intact as is the interior spring.

There are old professional cast iron replacement pieces in the interior mechanism of other interior pieces including the two small pieces which are in the middle of the section of the bank that houses the keywind shaft. These two small pieces show on the outside of the bank at the center of the outside windup area by the windup shaft. The green of this touch up appears much closer to the shade of the original green on the actual bank. For some reason in the photo the shade of the minor green touchup looks very different. The winding key is a well made cast iron recast.

All of the rest of the castings as well as the rest of the paint on the bank not mentioned in the above notes is original in all respects. Even with the several mentioned flaws above this is quite a respectable & appealing example of a Girl Skipping Rope Bank. This example of the bank is in somewhat better condition than the average example of this very fragile bank which is normally encountered.

Price: $32,500.00

PA residents add 6% sales tax or provide a valid resale number. If you have any questions, please write or call 717-283-6011.

Shipping: Cost of shipping to be determined based on destination.

 

Little Jocko Musical Mechanical Bank

Little Jocko Mechanical Bank

This is a rare Little Jocko Musical tin winding mechanical bank. The bank dates circa 1912-1920's or so. The bank was made by the Strauss Toy Company located in New York City, New York. This is a very difficult bank to find in any condition. The example offered has an expertly replaced tin cup made a number of years ago by Joe Freedman. The cup is so well made & so accurately painted that it is difficult to tell with the naked eye. But, it is visible under blacklight.

Another view of the LIttle Jocko Mechanical BankAnother view of the Little Jocko Mechanical Bank

The lead monkey is an expert replacement done quite a number of years ago by a different restoration artist in the correct metal & just like the original. Also, this monkey is quite accurately painted in the correct metallic colors. The monkey is also very difficult to detect that it is not original with the naked eye. But, again this expert restoration is visible under blacklight. The tin coin trap is original. But the interior mechanism of this key lock coin trap under the bank was expertly repaired a number of years ago to work properly. We do not have a key for opening the coin trap.

The Little Jocko Mechanical Bank

There are numerous bends & some rust spots on the bank. There are a couple of circular lines of wear from where the original crank was turned around to operate the bank. These wear lines are normal for examples of this bank even when the bank is found in superb condition as this was the first area to wear on the bank.

Little Jocko Mechanical Bank

The brass shaft & wooden handle on the crank are entirely original. As made on all known examples of this bank there is a spot of solder connecting the brass shaft to the interior rod that turns to activate the music inside of the bank. On this example there is a partial hesitation in function as it takes a few careful & gentle turns of the crank to get it to connect inside with the mechanism so that the music plays.

Top view of the Little Jocko Mechanical Bank

The bank measures 7 1/2 inches tall to the top of the top of the monkey, The top deck is 6 1/2 inches long by 4 1/4 inches wide. The middle of the case measures 5 3/4 inches across by 3 5/8 inches deep. The bank has dents, bends, wear, some rust spots, & some dirty areas. This is quite a rare & elusive mechanical bank that is very difficult to locate in any condition. The precise condition can be seen in the accompanying photos.

Price: $2,200.00

PA residents add 6% sales tax or provide a valid resale number. If you have any questions, please write or call 717-283-6011.

Shipping is free to destinations within the U.S. Ask for a quote for shipping to addresses in other countries.

 

Mule Entering Barn Mechanical Bank, Gorgeous Original Bright 97% Paint

Side view of antique Mule Entering Barn Mechanical Bank

Gorgeous fantastic all original example of a Mule Entering Barn Bank. The bank is 100% original in all respects. Easily in the top 1% condition wise of all known examples of this bank. There are no cracks, no chips to the iron, & no repairs. Approximately 97% or so the original paint is present.

Close up view of antique Mule Entering Barn Mechanical BankThe paint is entirely original in all respects. Additionally the paint is fresh, rich, thick, bright & truly gorgeous! A truly exceptional example in all respects! The bank is in superb working order. Yes, both the tail & the trap are original. Nothing has ever been done to this bank. It appears that the bank has never even been cleaned.

There are a couple of points above the paint quality that even add a few bonus points to the bank. One is that under the base in attractive period ink is the name "Joe" & under "Joe" there are three initials in equally appealing period lettering.

Also, at one time there was a period inked inscription in fancy lettering on one side of the roof. We can only see signs of a few letters & the inscription is now entirely unreadable. But, it adds a bit of intrigue for us to wonder what the inscription originally said. We have put the bank under a black light to try to figure out some of the lettering. Signs of a few more letters show under the black light. But, nothing is readable.

The bank was designed by Edward Morris of Boston, Mass. Edward Morris was granted a patent on the bank in January of 1880. The J. & E. Stevens Co. of Cromwell, Conn. made the bank between 1880 to 1923.

The base measures 8 1/2 inches by 3 3/8 inches. In over 46 years of buying & selling mechanical banks this is by far the finest condition example of a Mule Entering Barn Bank that we have ever owned. The condition can be seen in the accompanying photos.

Price: $4,500.00 (Sold)

PA residents add 6% sales tax or provide a valid resale number. If you have any questions, please write or call 717-283-6011.

Shipping is free to destinations within the U.S. Ask for a quote for shipping to addresses in other countries.

Reference number: 5150

Poor Weary Willie Comical Knave German Tin Still Bank circa 1890's-1910

View of the Weary Willie antique toy tin still bankScarce original litho tin figural "Poor Weary Willie" still bank. This bank was produced circa 1890's-1910 or so in Germany for the English market. The bank is marked at the lower right on the front "Made In Germany". On the chest of the man is the verse ""Poor Weary Willie"& "I'm a comical knave But, your coins I'll save, The more you give ME, The richer YOU'LL be."

The bank shows a smiling man wearing an eye patch & who has his toes sticking out of his worn out shoes. The colors are bright & shiny & there is no fading. But, there is some wear, & some areas of oxidation, & also some thin lines of aging. He retains his original hat brim & his original base (which slides off for coin removal).

This charming & fascinating bank is complete & original in all respects. He measures 4 3/4 inches tall by 2 11/16 across by 1 3/4 inches deep. The condition can be seen in the accompanying photos.

Price: $275.00

PA residents add 6% sales tax or provide a valid resale number. If you have any questions, please write or call 717-283-6011.

Shipping is free to destinations within the U.S. Ask for a quote for shipping to addresses in other countries.

Reference number: 5147

 

Some History of Mechanical Bank Collectors and 15 Tips on Collecting

Antique toy banks can be collected at different price levels including very high price levels. Perhaps it is the connection with money that has made bank collecting a hobby that has appealed to many who were involved in the business of money.

The legendary bank collector Ed Mosler (1918-1982) ran the Mosler Safe Company which was founded by Gustave Mosler in 1867. Ed tried to collect every type of mechanical bank ever made, old and new.

Covert and Gertrude Hegarty were a major toy and bank collecting husband and wife team. Covert (1902-1968) was president of the First National Bank of Coalport, served on the board of directors of the County National Bank at Clearfield, and was involved in a number of other businesses in the Coalport area. Gertrude (1903-2003) and Covert were avid collectors beginning in the 1940s.

Collector Mary Roebling (1905-1994) was the first woman in the United States to be president of a major commercial bank, the Trenton Trust Company. Roebling had a cast iron mechanical bank made that depicted the Trenton Trust with her sitting in front of it.

Many mechanical bank collectors have come from the ranks of company owners and entrepreneurs. Profits from the sale of interior cardboard cylinders of toilet paper rolls paid for the toy and bank collecting habit of Leon Perelman who founded the Perelman Toy Museum in Philadelphia where he displayed his collection.

All of these oldtime collectors competed with each other to get the best and the most rare banks for their collections.

Consequently, with that kind of history in the hobby, bank collectors are used to stiff competition from other collectors when they want to add particularly beautiful and/or rare banks to their collections.

A funny thing about toy banks- they were made to encourage the saving of money by children. Then collecting them became a way for much bigger kids to spend money! And that spending of money can end up making money in some cases but can also lose money in others. If the bank is not what the collector thought it was, then they may well lose money. Possibly a lot of money. But losing money due to a lack of knowledge is unnecessary.

If you are interested in collecting antique banks and toys, one of the first things that you need to do is educate yourself about them. There is nothing wrong with buying or collecting a restored bank or a reproduction or a second casting as long as you know what it is that you are buying. No one likes unpleasant surprises when they learn that their "bargain" purchase was not a bargain at all!

Here are some suggestions on what to look for when collecting cast iron antique banks.

Fifteen Tips

  1. Whenever there is an opportunity to look at a quantity of banks, whether at an auction or in a collection, go and look at them in detail. Take the time, even if you know you aren't going to be buying anything right then. Just go and look and look and touch and feel. Challenge yourself to find repairs and to figure out if it is an old original bank or a later casting.
  2. Buy reference books on mechanical banks and read them. The best ones are The Bank Book: The Encyclopedia of Mechanical Bank Collecting, 1985, by Bill Norman and Penny Lane: A History of Antique Mechanical Toy Banks, 1987, by Al Davidson. There is also a book of the base tracings of original banks by Robert McCumber. This book may be hard to find but is useful for determining whether a casting is original or a second casting (which may be smaller). (But there can be some exceptions to the general rule.)
  3. Learn how to use a black light and carry it with you. Be aware that not everything that shows up under a black light means that there is a restoration. It is a tool for examination (but it is not infallible). Learn how to interpret the results of using a black light.
  4. Carry a magnet with you. This is useful for determining whether a bank is made of iron or not and whether there are repairs made of other materials.
  5. Look at banks that are confirmed to be reproductions or fakes so that you can see how they differ from old original banks. Examine their surfaces, the paint, and the quality of the casting. Look at how they fit (or don't fit) where the pieces meet.
  6. When examining old banks, look for areas in the paint that look uneven and bubbled. A welded break in iron burns off some of the original paint in the area of the weld and is usually touched up with new paint.
  7. Compare the paint on different parts of a bank to other parts of the same bank. Does one color look the same on all areas of the bank? If it differs in gloss, texture or hue, ask yourself why it differs.
  8. Check to see how tightly the pieces fit together. Old banks generally were made to fit together very well.
  9. Look at the small component parts of the bank. The figures, the arms, the legs, the heads. Are they too smooth? Too rough? Or just right? (Like the porridge in the tale of the Three Bears?) Do they match each other in casting and surface quality?
  10. If the bank looks dirty, check carefully to see if the dirt is old or has the bank been covered with burnt umber, applied to the surface to create the appearance of old patina.
  11. Check for cracks and repairs at any of the points where the bank logically would be most likely to be damaged. (The thinnest parts, the edges and corners.)
  12. Look for evidence of the paint having aged naturally. Generally you are looking for fine crazing in the paint. This is often easiest to see in the lightest areas. (A small magnifying glass can be helpful to have on hand when looking for natural crazing in paint or small cracks in iron.)
  13. Check the interior for repairs to the mechanism. Does anything look new or "too rusty"?
  14. Smell the bank and check with a fingernail to see if the paint will take an impression. Old paint does not have the smell of fresh paint and old paint would be dried and not take an impression.
  15. Collect the best banks you can afford and make sure you are getting what you are paying for by becoming well informed.

There is nothing wrong with buying banks that have repairs and restorations or are later castings from original castings or are reproductions. Great looking banks that have well done repairs can be added to a collection for less money than a mint condition bank. But it is not a good thing if a collector buys a bank and doesn't know what it is that he or she is buying.

If you're think you're buying champagne, you don't want it to turn out to be sparkling cider!

 

 

 

Jim Maxwell Answers Questions about Antique Mechanical Banks

Occasionally people send emails with questions that probably occur to many people who don't collect or deal in antique mechanical banks. When the answer seems like one that might be of interest to many people, we will include it here on this page.

This first answered question relates to factors to take into consideration in determining the value, and thus the price, of an antique mechanical bank.

August 23, 2012 Question received about our Mule Entering Barn Bank which is priced at $4,500:

Hi, dont mean to be rude but is that price for real?? i have one of these and I'd sell it to you for half that if your interested?

Answer:

Mule Entering Barn antique mechanical bankThank you for your email, interest, and mention that you have a Mule Entering Barn bank for sale. I have also had examples which I have sold for one half of this price (and still would if in inventory). I have also had examples which I have sold for under one tenth or less of this price (and still would if in inventory). Actually, I have even had examples which were complete and working that I sold for as little as $285. However, just like most items that people collect the precise condition of the specific example is critical in formulating the price.

Banks are just like coins and stamps as condition is paramount in determination of price. Some coins which are $100 in one condition are $100,000 in another condition.

Several examples of Mule Entering Barn which are in identical condition and/or slightly better than ours have sold privately in the range of $6,500 to $9,500 several times. That was a few years ago when the economy was stronger and at a point that we turned down $6,500. for this exact bank as it was not for sale at that time.

Actually, I know of one example of the Mule Entering Barn that is in a collection which a friend of mine paid $16,000 for and I have offered him a profit for it. That bank is in a crisp original box and has 99.99% paint. It pays to keep in mind with banks that the the first 90% of the paint is worth less than the last 10%, the first 97% is worth less than the last 3%, and the first 99% is worth less than the last 1%.