This blog discusses old toys from the early 1920's to the end of the 1950's. All kinds of topics are discussed.
The time span was the greatest period for "hands-on" toys, where a young child could actually go outside and play for hours at a time.
You can see the elegance but simple design of these toys. It was a time when huge machines, and people made and finished toys by hand.
The era has long passed, but many of the toys are still around, and that is what I would like to share.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Those Beautiful Mechanical Banks from Gray's Auctioneers
Saturday, December 6, 2014 Overcast, drizzling, and warm
Those Beautiful Mechanical Banks
from Gray's Auctioneers
Earlier this week, I had contacted Gray's Auctioneer's, and later given the go-ahead to write an introductory post about them., which I did yesterday. Their website is superbly designed to allow readers to easily migrate through their site, and to look at their images against a whitened background (which is what I have been doing for the last 5 months or so. However, it's their excellent photography and framing of their images that caught my eye. For yesterday's post on Gray's Auctioneers, I decided to present just 1 item that will be auctioned on December 10, 2014 starting @ 07:00 A.M. Their website gave me some motivation to present their images as I had found them.
However, I couldn't simply leave all the rest of the magnificent photography of the mechanical banks. I had to add another post for today. However, once again, I'm minimizing the post to only 2 items. Their photography is excellent and large in size. I didn't want to present my usual 10 images, and have you scroll and scroll and scroll down. Better still,if you go to their website and look at each image, they have a slide show that changes the images of an item (usually from 6-8) every 3-5 descends or so.
A Cast Iron Cat and Mouse (Cat Balancing) Mechanical Bank Manufactured by J. & E. Stevens Co., ca. 1891, Place a coin in front of the mouse over the cat. Press the lever and as the coin disappears into the bank, the kitten appears holding the mouse and ball.
Dimensions: height x width x depth:
11 3/4" x 5 1/2" x 4"
298 mm x 140 mm x 102 mm
Provenance: The Collection of Mr. James N. Seidelle*
*Description Courtesy of Gray's Auctioneers
Yesterday I spoke to the representative of Gray's Auctioneers yesterday, Ms. Flannery Marley.
In our conversation, Flannery mentioned that they examine and test their items going to auction to see if they work. This is great, because when you read the written description,you can understand what the mechanics are for receiving a coin and depositing it into the "vault".
It's hard to imagine how popular these mechanical banks were way back and so long ago, Yet even today, they're still very popular. I purchased a "reproduction" in, of all places a hardware store, which is ironic, because many of the original cast iron toy makers started out making cast iron metal hardware (food knobs, door hinges, door locks).
For these great photographs, I can now understand when antique toy experts say tha tit's the fine detail that can't be reproduced very well in today's reproductions or even the "fakes" from 100 years ago. Both the extremely fine sand used in the casting process, and the superb craftsmanship of the workers certainly illustrates how beautiful these banks were made.
You'll definitely have to look at these photos in Blogger's slide mode and in high magnification.
What is showing in the middle photo below is a curled-up mouse that the cat caught after the coin was deposited into the bank, and a spring was released.
A Cast Iron Eagle and Eaglets Mechanical Bank Manufactured by J. & E. Stevens Co., ca. 1883, Place a coin in the eagle's beak and press the lever. The eagle leans forward as if to feed the eaglets. The eaglets rise up as if to eat and a bellows is activated to simulate the chirping eaglets. The coin is simultaneously deposited into the nest and falls into the receptacle below.
Dimensions: height x width x depth
6" x 8" x 4"
152 mm x 203 mm x 102 mm
Provenance: The Collection of Mr. James N. Seidelle. *
• Description Courtesy of Gray's Auctioneers
The item below is smaller than the bank above. It was probably less-costly to purchase than the one above, so it's currently not as high-price at the set starting bid for auction. But I absolutely had to select this one. Once again the texture of the features on the mother bird is exceptional. BUt what I also like is the mechanics of the bank.
What's so amazing about these toy banks, is that all of the major manufacturers of cast iron products at the time also manufactured these banks. There's also an American association just for mechanical banks! What';s even more fascinating is how many different designs and mechanics that were created to deposit counts into the banks.
The description doesn't say, but I'm 99% sure that these banks were hand painted.
Just look at the plumage of this cast iron bird!
Above is a great photo of one of the baby bird's waiting to be fed.
I like those bulging eyes! Below is the patent date registered on
January 23, 1883 - almost 132 years ago!
You'll have to visit the Gray's Auctioneers website or Liveauctioneers
to see the fine collection and the excellent photography.