The Art of Collecting Mechanical Banks: A Highlight from Alderfer Auction

The Art of Collecting Mechanical Banks: A Highlight from Alderfer Auction

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The Art of Collecting Mechanical Banks: A Highlight from Alderfer Auction

Christian Answini | Fine Arts Specialist 


The world of antique collecting is vast and filled with myriad treasures, each with its own story and place in history. Among these, mechanical banks hold a special place in the hearts of collectors. Not just for their monetary value but for the creativity, craftsmanship, and ingenuity they embody. These mechanical marvels, often depicting scenes from everyday life, historical events, or whimsical activities, are a window into the past and a testament to the artistic and mechanical prowess of their creators.

Alderfer Auction, a well-known name among collectors and enthusiasts, is bringing a unique opportunity to acquire some of the most sought-after mechanical banks in the market. Their upcoming auction features a selection of mechanical banks that stand out not just for their rarity but for the stories they tell and the craftsmanship they showcase.

Hubley "Ferris Wheel" Mechanical Bank


A centerpiece of the auction is the Hubley "Ferris Wheel" Mechanical Bank, with an estimated value of $2,000-6,000. Made around 1930, this rare find is not just a bank; it's a piece of history that captures the joy and wonder of early amusement parks. The bank features a rotating Ferris wheel, complete with the original wind-up key, and shows exceptional surface detailing. It's a top-notch example of Hubley's artistry and innovation in the world of mechanical banks.

J.& E. Stevens "Dentist" Mechanical Bank

Another highlight is the J.& E. Stevens "Dentist" Mechanical Bank, valued at $500-1,000. This bank is a highly detailed representation of a 19th-century dental scene, showcasing the intricate craftsmanship for which J.& E. Stevens is renowned. The dentist, patient, and dental chair are finely cast, offering a glimpse into the dental practices of the time and the artistic detail that went into creating these mechanical banks.

Shepard Hardware "Jonah and the Whale" Bank


The Shepard Hardware "Jonah and the Whale" Bank, estimated at $400-600, is a popular collectible that creatively depicts the biblical scene of Jonah being swallowed by the whale. Retaining much of its original paint surface from 1890, this bank is not only a collector's item but also a piece of religious and cultural history.

J.& E. Stevens "Milking Cow" Bank

The J.& E. Stevens "Milking Cow" Bank, with an estimated value of $300-900, is a beautifully painted bank that captures the action of milking a cow. These early Stevens banks are always in demand for their great action, paint, and the nostalgic feel they bring to any collection.

Shepard Hardware "Leap Frog" Bank

Lastly, the Shepard Hardware "Leap Frog" Bank, estimated at $300-600, features amusing action and great original paint. Marked with the 1891 patent date, it's a playful representation of childhood games and a fine example of Shepard Hardware's contribution to the mechanical bank industry.

Collecting Mechanical Banks

Collecting mechanical banks is more than an investment; it's a journey into the past and an appreciation of the artistry and innovation that have shaped these items. Each bank tells a story, whether it's a slice of everyday life, a historical event, or a whimsical scene. They remind us of the times when saving money was not just a necessity but also an opportunity for creativity and fun.

The upcoming auction at Alderfer Auction presents a rare opportunity to own a piece of history and art. Whether you're a seasoned collector or new to the world of mechanical banks, these pieces offer a glimpse into the creativity and craftsmanship of bygone eras. It's an event not to be missed by anyone with an appreciation for history, art, and the timeless appeal of mechanical banks.

Want to bid on a mechanical bank of your own? Check out our Mechanical Banks and Toys Estate Sale of Ray Waltz (Royersford) below:

Mechanical Banks and Toys | Estate of Ray Waltz

February 13, 2024 at 10:00 AM

Preview at our Hatfield location (501 Fairgrounds Road, Hatfield, PA 19440) on the following dates by appointment:

Friday, February 9th from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Monday, February 12th from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM