J. & E. Stevens Lion Hunter Bank, ca. 1910

Value (2017) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
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GUEST:
Well, it was given to my grandfather, who was born in 1906, as a child. I'm not sure exactly when he got it. He's had it since then. When I was a kid, I'd go to his house, he'd pull it back, I'd put a penny in it, we'd shoot in the lion. I always thought it was fun, and when he passed away, I got it. I've heard people say they're fairly rare, but I really have never looked much...

APPRAISER:
And this fella here?

GUEST:
That's supposed to be Teddy Roosevelt. That's my understanding.

APPRAISER:
Okay, who told you that?

GUEST:
My grandmother.

APPRAISER:
Oh, your grandmother. Okay. This is what we call the Lion Hunter cast-iron mechanical bank. It was made by J and E Stevens in Cromwell, Connecticut. And it's right around 1910, which is right around the time when Teddy Roosevelt was off on his safaris in Africa, and there's some confusion about whether or not this is Teddy Roosevelt, because there is a Teddy Roosevelt bank. Okay. And the Teddy Roosevelt bank is he shoots a bear, and the bear pops out of a tree stump. Now, Teddy did go to Africa. Of course, he was shooting bears out in the Midwest.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
But, he went on African safaris, so there might be some confusion as to... because he was hunting lions there. But, how do you know this isn't Teddy? Teddy Roosevelt wore glasses. And in the Teddy Roosevelt bank, he's got his glasses, and he has a totally different mustache. So this was made around that same time to sort of cash in on the whole thing, and, as you know, it is a mechanical bank. Now you say you played with it.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Now, how did you play with it? Well, my grandfather would pull this back, we'd put the penny on here. Uh-huh. We'll do that. And then he pulled the...

APPRAISER:
Now, wait a minute, now, let me ask you this. You know, this had something else you could have done with this that I bet you didn't know when you played with it.

GUEST:
Uh... okay.

APPRAISER:
You could put a cap in here.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
So that when you shot it, you'd get a nice big bang.

GUEST:
Okay. Didn't know that.

APPRAISER:
It's a good thing you didn't, because a lot of times, if they did that, it would pull water in there and it would cause rust. Okay. Which you don't want. So, let's see what happens when you get it going.

GUEST:
Well, hopefully it'll work.

APPRAISER:
There he goes. So, the lion pops up and he shoots the lion. Well, this is a really nice bank. Cast-iron mechanical banks are one of the great toys of America, and were one of the first real toys that were seriously collected. They were collected as early as the '20s when the banks were only about ten or 15 years old.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
It was considered a toy, but really, it was oftentimes owned by an adult who would get the kids to come in and put their pennies in it.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And not really let the kids play with it. So, you know, you fit that category. The thing about values in mechanical banks is they are very heavily dependent on paint. And, as you can see, over the years you could get some paint chipping here and there, and some paint fading, and all that affects the value, all right? The other thing is how bright the paint is. And, as I say, the values can go crazy as far as condition is concerned. This happens to be an extremely fine example.

GUEST:
Oh, good.

APPRAISER:
Even with the chipping, but the paint is really, overall, bright. There's usually chipping on that head, because a lot of times the hands, when you're operating it, and putting in the penny, it would agitate that paint. One of the things that really makes this bank really nice and one of the little details that is often missing-- I don't know if you can see, right here, the flecks? See the little shiny parts?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
That is mica...

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
That is put on the paint to make it look more realistic as well.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Now, oftentimes, that's missing. As I say, it's an extremely fine bank, and when they're in really great condition, the price goes crazy. At auction today, I think this bank would sell for somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000.

GUEST:
Hmm, really? Wow.

APPRAISER:
So, I'm really glad you brought it in. I bet you're glad you brought it in.

GUEST:
I'm glad I did, too. I mean, I've heard people say it was worth something, but I had no idea how much. And it's probably one of the best condition banks I've seen over the years.

APPRAISER:
Well, good. Well, going to keep it for a long time, hopefully.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2017)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Harrisburg, PA (June 03, 2017)
Form
Bank
Material
Mica , Paint

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