PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — An extremely rare toy bank, thought to be the only one in existence, sold for $266,500 at Freeman’s American furniture, folk and decorative arts auction on November 13. The Coasting Bank, which soared past its original $30,000 estimate, was unveiled with much fanfare to Mechanical Bank Collectors of America earlier this year.
“We were thrilled with the price the Coasting Bank achieved. It came to us in very good condition, and it caused quite a stir among collectors,” said Freeman’s Americana department head Lynda Cain.
The only known example, and attributed to the famous toy designer Charles A. Bailey, the bank was found in an attic in Peebles, Scotland. Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull were called to assist in determining the unusual bank’s worth. It was there that specialist Douglas Girton discovered that the bank was American. He then suggested to the owner that it be sold at Freeman’s, their sister auction house in Philadelphia.
The bank depicts a painted lead figure of a baby with outstretched arms on a sled, his legs straddling a coin slot. The sled rests atop a gold painted cast steel slide, or track, which is held up by two poles stemming from the red painted base. As the sled descends, the coin is deposited in a triangular cast lead bank, painted green with gold floral scrollwork. The rectangular base features an open work, geometric design, which flanks the cast iron title “Coasting Bank.”
F.H. Griffith, in his article “Coasting Bank” published in the April 1955 issue of Hobbies Magazine, chronicles William J. Stackhouse’s discovery of an advertisement for the Coasting Bank in Ehrich’s Fashion Quarterly from 1884. According to Griffith, “This bank is not known to be in any collection and the catalog offers us our first information about it.”
A complete review of the sale will appear in an upcoming issue.