”Jonah and the Whale“ Mechanical Bank, ca. 1890

Value (2010) | $6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I purchased this from my aunt's estate about six months ago. I paid $4,500 for it. It came from the family, it's a family item, and it is rather unique, and I like unique items like this.

APPRAISER:
Well, it's a mechanical bank. They were primarily popular in the late 19th century in America. They were popular because they promoted thrift, which was a very great Victorian value of the day. This particular bank was popular because it promoted another aspect of what they wanted to teach, namely the Bible.

GUEST:
Correct.

APPRAISER:
They're made of cast iron. It's really a unique American art form, frankly. We were the only country in the world that made a lot of toys out of cast iron, and the mechanical banks are the best examples of the work, because they were incredibly intricate, incredibly complex mechanically. I just wanted to demonstrate how it works.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
You put the penny there. And the lever's over here.

GUEST:
The lever's over here. And it goes in.

APPRAISER:
And there goes the whale. It was made by Shepard Hardware. $4,500 is generally a little high for a "Jonah and the Whale" bank.

GUEST:
It was a lot of money, yes.

APPRAISER:
The average examples of these generally run $1,000 to $1,500, sometimes as much as $2,000. Are you concerned at all that you overpaid?

GUEST:
No, because, as I say, my aunt is family.

APPRAISER:
It's an emotional thing.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
This is above average condition. It does have remarkable paint retention all along here. It is really an exceptional example. I think at auction, a conservative estimate on this bank would be in the $6,000 to $8,000 range.

GUEST:
Well, thank you very much. That's nice news.

APPRAISER:
So, let's do it one more time.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
I love the way the jaw just is...

GUEST:
Floats up and down, yes.

APPRAISER:
Perfectly balanced there.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2010)
$6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction
Event
Des Moines, IA (August 07, 2010)
Period
19th Century
Form
Bank
Material
Cast Iron

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