TIMONIUM, MD – Neighborhood banks are paying a miserly rate of interest these days, but on the other side of the coin, antique mechanical and still banks are attracting a higher rate of interest than ever before. Their next test will come on Saturday, June 4, when RSL Auction Co. presents a 499-lot selection of fine banks, together with a smaller grouping of antique toys, at Richard Opfer’s gallery in suburban Baltimore.
The auction’s centerpiece is the John Jirkofsky collection. A longtime Midwestern collector, Jirkofsky is a member of both the MBCA and SBCCA, a reflection of his penchant for both mechanical and still banks. Jirkofsky bought most of his banks from local sellers. He and his good friend Bill Robinson, another well-known collector who specializes in still banks, frequented countless markets and shows in the Midwest in search of new acquisitions. Their persistence paid off, and both collectors turned up cast-iron, lead and spelter rarities in the unlikeliest of places.
The June 4 sale featuring the Jirkofsky collection will open with 177 still banks, with 27 German spelter (lead) banks taking the lead. The highest estimates have been assigned to the bank depicting a young black boy with a bouquet of flowers, $5,000-$7,000; and a bright, near-mint example of a bear on hind legs with top hat, $1,800-$2,200.