1893 World's Columbian Exposition Safe Bank
15 years ago, I was at a local show, and I found it in a booth. I paid $250 for it. The lady said that it was her father's, that it was in the basement, and that she brought it out to sell at that particular show.
What part of the country?
First, let me tell you a little bit about banks. Cast iron is a material for toys and banks that's almost unique to America. And so we had the mechanical banks made of cast iron, and all the toys made of cast iron, beginning in the late 19th century. We've seen the mechanical banks on the shows. And then these are what we call still banks. There are quite a few still banks, various varieties. One of the most common forms for a still bank was, surprise, a safe. So there's lots of safe banks out there. This is really a nice one. This was made for the Colombian Exposition, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. And it was in Chicago in 1893. It has three portraits on the sides. If we spin this, we see Grover Cleveland, who was president at the time. This is sort of a copper-plated inset showing him. Then on the back we have Columbus. Of course, he was the hero of the fair. And what I think is really fun is this is T.W. Palmer, who was the chairman of the fair. I think it's very funny that he decided he should be on a par with the president and Columbus. It says on the bottom "Patent applied for," which means it really was never granted. Of course, when you think about it, it takes a few years to grant it, so maybe it never really got granted, because after the fair, they weren't selling many of these, which is, again, probably why it's rare. What's interesting is we do not know who made this bank. The history has not come down. Safe banks are fairly common. This is really one of the rarer safe banks. It's nickel-plated cast iron, as I say, with some copper inserts. This is considered by bank collectors probably the holy grail of safe banks-- the one that you really have to have in your collection. It's in basically pretty decent shape. It's got some wear up here. By the way, this is the Northern Hemisphere, which, of course, is where Columbus did his discovery. At auction I would put an estimate on this of $10,000 to $12,000.
And I wouldn't be surprised to see it go for... get close to $20,000.
(exhales in disbelief) That was a lucky day!
I would say so.
That's money in the bank.
Yes, it is.
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