Banks, Cast Iron, Mechanical Bank Notes, Mechanical Toys — September 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Mechanical Bank Notes: Pump and Bucket Bank


Simplistic and charming are the imaginizing of life on a farm. Its appeal was the catalyst for the manufacture of innumerable objects reflecting such an existence.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries several mechanical banks were produced, both in this country and abroad, that depicted various aspects of farm life. Some examples were of a humorous nature. These included the two youths caught in the act of thievery, i.e. “Boys Stealing Watermelons Bank”, and the startled lad thrust from his stool in “Milking Cow Bank”. Others represented animals such as “Rooster Bank”, “Mule Entering Barn”, and “Hen and Chicks Bank”. There are also several examples that depict commonplace implements so reminiscent of farm life. One of these is “Pump and Bucket” bank, our subject this article.

“Pump and Bucket” is a unique combination of a mechanical bank and a coin registering bank. This was revealed in the descriptive text accompanying an illustration of “Pump and Bucket” seen in a Marshall Field and Co. catalog, circa 1892. Most registering banks are classified as such since, upon insertion of a coin, its sole function is to record, within a small window, the precise sum of deposit.

However, “Pump and Bucket” neither allows for recording of coins nor their deposition until its pump handle is raised and lowered. It is this one lone feature, namely its manual / mechanical aspect that categorizes it as a “mechanical bank”.

“Pump and Bucket” was produced with two distinctly different castings. The variations pertain specifically to its platform. One simply displays a faux wood grained effect, and the other exhibits the words “Complements of Gusky’s” imprinted in raised lettering. Unfortunately, to date, there is no recorded historical data indicating either the designer or manufacturer of the “Pump and Bucket” mechanical bank. Had it not been for the aforementioned 1892 Marshall Field and Company catalog, its period of distribution would
have remained unknown.

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