Vintage Mechanical Toy Banks
Vintage Mechanical toy banks are highly collectible money banks featuring novelty designs and moving mechanisms.
History & Description
The first mechanical banks were produced from wood and cloth but by the late-nineteenth century the majority were made of cast-iron. They were extremely popular between 1869 and 1930 and were manufactured on America’s east coast by companies such as J. & E. Stevens and W.J. Shepard.
Unlike “still” banks, which have no moving parts, mechanical versions operate on two basic design principles; the weight of the deposited coin and a switch - or pull - that is pulled which then activates a spring and sets the bank in motion.
Guide for collectors
Vintage mechanical toy banks come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular examples portray political or historical figures, while others depict circuses, public houses or scenes from everyday life.
The price of a mechanical toy bank depends on its age, condition, sophistication of its mechanism and maker’s mark. Records indicate that banks that were made in the late-nineteenth century by American companies such as Kyser & Rex, J. & E. Stevens Co. and Shepard Hardware Co. achieve the highest prices at auction.
Although vintage mechanical toy banks are frequently advertised on eBay, the most valuable and sought after examples are typically sold through both national and international auctions.
Notable auction sales
On October 27th 2007 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennslvania;
- A roller skating mechanical bank made by Kyser & Rex, circa 1880s, realised a price of $170,000.
- A black man and watermelon mechanical bank made by J. & E. Stevens Company, circa 1888, realised a price of $170,000.
- A merry-go-round mechanical bank made by Kyser & Rex, circa 1880s, realised a price of $150,000.
- A Germania exchange mechanical bank made by J. & E. Stevens Company, circa 1880s, realised a price of $130,000.
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