Collecting Still Banks
A Collection Of Banks
Collecting still banks can take you in lots of directions. You can collect by type of material: ceramic, tin, wood, steel, etc. You can collect by theme: advertising banks, book banks, banks designed like household items, are as building replicas. Since still banks were made in so many formats, the possibilities are endless.
Because they are relatively small, a bank collection can be decoratively displayed as a group or as accent pieces.
Go Get Your Piggy Bank
Almost everyone has said this to a child or heard it as a child. Most still banks were made to be attractive to children and encourage thrift.
They became popular promotional items for all types of businesses. The obvious business connection is the banking institution. Bank "banks" from the first half of the 20th century are very collectible.
Why Do They Call Them Piggy Banks?
We think of a child's bank for coins as a piggy bank.
But the spelling should by pygg.
In the middle ages metal was scarce.
Dishes and containers were made from an orange colored clay called pygg.
An extra coin was tossed into a clay pot, or a pygg pot.
Traditional Pig BanksClick thumbnail to view full-size
Banks Designed As Household ItemsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Difficulty With Valuing Many Collectibles
Relative rarity is the most important criteria in establishing the value of an antique or vintage item. In the case of some collectibles, like coins or stamps or comics, this rarity is generally a matter of public record and thus available.
The market price for higher priced items is often set by auction results. In the case of lower priced items, auction results can vary widely.
Retail sales are a more reliable value guage for less expensive items.
For many other collectibles, relative rarity is harder to determine and establish. Universally accepted guides are not available, or don't have full market coverage or aren't kept current.
Market price guides need to have:
- General acceptability authority by dealers and collectors.
- Broad subject coverage of all common items, and more esoteric variations.
- Periodic updates, or new editions available commercially.
Market supported price guides are readily available for "commodity" collectibles like coins (e.g. Krause) or stamps (e.g. Scotts) or comic books (e.g. Overstreets).
Banks Designed Like BooksClick thumbnail to view full-size
Mechanical banks have a more public record available than still banks.
For still banks the collector is flying solo and needs to be more thoughtful and creative. What might be unique in one country might be common in another. Dealer and store owner information is not that useful or reliable.
The Eye Of The Beholder
The appearance, or eye appeal is the dominant factor in the value and salability of a still bank.
It's like ice skating competition; your score gets reduced for errors and omissions. Have you noticed that a dealer or other buyer politely remarks about faults first. It's natural and it's good business.
Is your first impression good? Is the price range workable? Would you like to own it? Great, now look for disqualifiers, flaws, and value reducers.
Iron and Steel BanksClick thumbnail to view full-size
Collecting Antique Toy Banks
What To Look For
Remember that perfection is unattainable in vintage items. There will be take aways. Are they acceptable? Look hard for disqualifiers.
Ceramic banks - generally shiny and fresh looking. Is the surface intact and fresh looking? Is the paint crackled anywhere? Possible disqualifiers: chips, cracks or other structural flaws.
Pottery banks - generally handmade and thus more rustic looking, but can be fragile. Is the surface intact and fresh looking? Is the paint fading or flaking anywhere? Possible disqualifiers: chips, cracks or other structural flaws.
Tin banks - generally inexpensive stamped metal pieces. Is the surface intact and fresh looking? Is the paint fading or flaking anywhere? Possible disqualifiers: dents, paint chips, mended areas or missing parts.
Book banks - generally sheet metal frames, often with faux leather covers.Is the surface intact and fresh looking? Look at the corners and edges of the cover for the usual signs of wear. Possible disqualifiers: bent frames, delaminating covers.
Metal banks - generally cast iron, two piece, screwed together. Surface treated and often painted. Is the surface intact and fresh looking? Is the paint fading or chipped? Possible disqualifiers: re-painted, mended areas or missing parts.
The Key To Your Heart
Some banks were designed with a cheap key mechanism.They were thus susceptible to scratches, and worst of all, lost keys.
If you insist on a key, you won't be buying many banks with key locks!
My advice? Consider a key a bonus!