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Recast Mechanical Banks
( Article orginally published December 1957 )
The writer has always, to the best of his ability, tried to keep current on any situations or complications -that have any bearing on the collecting of mechanical banks. Numbers of letters have been received expressing concern over recast mechanical banks. These letters have been more prevalent in recent months due to the reproductions sponsored by a large Eastern concern. The reproductions are being sold through some banking institutions. The distributor's schedule lists a different bank for each month through June 1958, with a possibility of the program continuing for several years.p>It is claimed by the sponsors that the banks are being made from original specimens and according to procedures used in making the original mechanical banks. Needless to say, these would automatically be in the class of recast mechanical banks. They are, however, defined as reproductions on the base plate of each bank. We are not in any way intimating or suggesting that the manufacturer or banking institutions are doing anything wrong or unethical, and agree that they have a right to do what they are doing, and that there is no misrepresentation on their part, because the products are marked or defined as reproductions. We are concerned only with what subsequent users or purchasers might do with the banks after they get possession of them. Unfortunately the method of identification as a reproduction has not proven sufficient, as a number of cases have already occurred whereby other base plates have been inserted in the banks and then offered to antique dealers and collectors as original specimens.
These circumstances are most certainly not beneficial to the hobby of collecting mechanical banks. Of course if an individual has some experience in the field of mechanical bank collecting it is not difficult for him to readily recognize these reproduction banks for what they are. The surface is quite rough and pebbly, the paint is entirely different than on the old banks, and there are other differences. The information on these banks is being brought to the attention of HOBBIES readers as a precautionary measure. The banks to be reproduced as listed by the concerns involved are Creedmore Bank, The World's Fair Bank, Magician Bank, U.S. Cannon Bank, Bucking Buffalo Bank, Artillery Bank, Organ Bank, Tammany Bank, 'Spise A Mule Bank, Eagle, Eaglettes Bank, Dog On Oblong Base Bank, Punch and Judy Bank. Each bank is issued monthly in the order given from June of 1957 through April 1958.
These banks, in the writer's opinion, will in no way affect the value of the old, original specimens any more than reprint Currier & Ives prints have affected the value of the original prints themselves. The danger of the situation exists in these reproductions being offered and sold as an original specimen by unscrupulous individuals, who remove the identifying !base plate and insert others. This is a difficult problem to control and unfortunately it is up to each person to protect himself, It is suggested that both dealers and collectors use a greater degree of discretion when purchasing mechanical banks from unknown sources. This is particularly important on the dealer's part whereby some stranger either visits the dealer's shop or a booth in an antique show and offers a mechanical bank or banks for sale.
It is also well to bear in mind that the terminology "authentic reproductions" is a rather meaningless use of words. "Authentic" according to Webster's Dictionary, means genuine, and the only genuine item in the case of a mechanical bank is the old original bank itself. The reproduction of this bank is not authentic, but simply a recast bank and, as such, has no value in a collection. Any individual with the proper equipment can recast a mechanical bank, but the end result is nothing more than a recast item, which has no value to a collector.
Another problem faces the mechanical bank collector of today and this has to do, with certain ractices involving recasting and faking mechanical banks. This has even gone so far as to involve the misuse of some original patterns of mechanical banks, and unfortunately in several cases these patterns are of some of the rarer banks. Fortunately, these recast banks are not very good and not difficult to distinguish, However, there have been a number of cases whereby some inexperienced dealers and collectors have been hoodwinked. It does seem a shame that anybody would stoop so low as to become involved in trying to destroy a fine hobby. However, similar circumstances have occurred in various other hobbies, including coins, paperweights, prints, glass, and about anything else a person might mention. It is further understood that some of these recast banks have come back home to roost, and sooner or later the roof will cave in. In any event, it is time now that the readers of HOBBIES should be informed of these activities, and the writer feels sure that a word to the wise is sufficient.
In closing the writer would like to express his opinion that the collecting of Mechanical banks will remain a fine hobby in spite of various recast efforts and the like. Fine, original mechanical banks will always remain a desirable collector's item and interest will continue to increase as it has over the past years. After all, some 15 to 20 years ago there were several individuals involved in recasting banks and their efforts in no way harmed the mechanical bank hobby. The old, original specimens became more and more desirable and increased in value. Over the years this has continued to be the case right up to date. There is no reason that mechanical banks will not continue to enjoy their increasing popularity. They are definitely Americana and represent an ingenious period of American toy production. They are part of the heritage of our country as connected with a period of our history. They represent a past way of life and living in our country, the same as Currier & Ives prints. They are clever involved mechanisms with fascinating mechanical action, and while originally made as toys to encourage children to save they had and have just as much, if not more, appeal to grownups. Surely circumstances such as those under discussion cannot destroy a hobby so well entrenched in the hearts of the many collectors of mechanical banks.