Do Kids Still Use a Toy Bank to Save Coins?

cast iron mechanical banks popular in 1800s

Reproductions available at Bahoukas Antiques include the dentist by Stephens, the skeleton – not sure, the black guy is a J&E Steven and the black girl is by John Harper. Original mechanical, cast iron banks were manufactured in the 1800s and created to encourage children to save their money. These banks are frequently referred to as ‘penny banks.’

The golden age of American cast iron banks lasted from 1869 to 1910. There are two types of these banks — still and mechanical. Still banks are primarily repositories and usually take the form of an animal or human figure with a coin slot. Mechanical banks have moving parts and springs and a sequence of movements can be triggered either by simply depositing a coin or more commonly by depositing a coin and pulling a lever.   from

J&E Stevens Company started in 1843 to manufacture cast-iron hardware, hammers, and a few iron toys.

A turning point in the company’s development came in 1869 with the production of their first cast-iron mechanical bank. This bank, featuring a monkey that popped out of building, inspired numerous competitors to produce similar products and helped create a new genre of product that blended art and function in ways that sparked the imagination and ingenuity of designers. In fact, between 1869 and 1890, the J & E Stevens Company produced more than 300 different models of mechanical banks.    from Connecticut History

WWI created a need for the iron to support the war efforts, essentially ending the company. But the 1920s brought renewed interest in the cast-iron mechanical banks.

Toy collecting, which became popular in the 1920s, exploded in the post-war era thanks to increases in spendable income. Today, original cast-iron banks and toys from the J & E Stevens Company sell for thousands of dollars. The enduring value of these products is a testament to the quality and ingenuity that helped make Connecticut the nation’s leading toy producer for much of the 19th century.   from Connecticut History

Here’s a quick video talking about cast iron mechanical banks from Canadian Pickers! Enjoy!


Along with unique cast-iron mechanical banks, we also have a wonderful selection of other banks for saving those coins. Start a great habit for your children and start them early. Stop by and browse our selection at Bahoukas Antique Mall. We’ll be watchin’ for ya!