BY SY SCHRECKINGER
IMAGINE A PERIOD IN history when the haunting whistle of an oncoming steam locomotive generated great excitement! This was a time of worldwide infatuation with these huge and powerful transporters. Our subject, seen in Figure 1, is an example of the ingenuity and creativeness utilized to exploit such public enthusiasm.
Cognizant of the popularity of railroading, particularly amongst children, were United States and European manufacturers of toys and mechanical banks. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such playthings produced within this country were composed, almost entirely, of painted cast iron while those created abroad were of painted or lithographed tinplate.
German tinplate toy manufacturers dominated the European marketplace. Companies such as Saalheimer and Strauss, Marklin, Gebrüder Bing, and Doll and Cie. produced not only sundry tinplate toys and mechanical banks, but also model railroad train sets. Recognizing the public’s attraction to mechanical banks and the popularity of railroad train sets, several German manufacturers redesigned components of their model railroad accessories, such as platform ticket dispensers, platform postage stamp dispensers and platform beverage dispensers, to also function as mechanical banks.
In most instances the conversion was accomplished by simply adding a key lock coin retaining door. “Briefmarken” Postage Stamp Vending Bank (Figure 1) is an example of one such factory conversion.