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Antique bank collection tops $1.76 million at Morphy Auctions

A remarkable private collection of antique mechanical and still banks has sold for more than $1.76 million at Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania.
The Peter and Joanne Brown Foundation Collection offered more than 500 rare and important examples, including several unique banks previously seen only in the pages of reference books.

"I have enjoyed all my collections and life as a collector," said Peter Brown. "They have been a great learning experience and have brought me in contact with many very interesting people who were passionate about the particular field we were dealing in.

"I know the story behind every individual piece and therefore in some respects I feel like I’m parting with old friends but I don’t regret a moment of my life of collecting as it was a wonderful experience."

Leading the collection was a mechanical bank based on the biblical tale of Jonah and the Whale.

Designed by Charles A. Bailey, and produced by J. & E. Stevens circa 1891, the bank featured Jonah appearing from the whale’s mouth when a coin was deposited. It was initially estimated to fetch $50,000-$80,000, but soared to a final price of $119,925.

It was one of several late 19th century banks designed by Bailey which exceeded their high estimates. Further examples included a Chinaman in a Boat lead bank which sold for $52,275 against a top estimate of $5,000, and a highly rare Wishbone bank which sold for $39,975 against a high estimate of $30,000.

Further top lots from the single-owner sale included a Kyser & Rex ‘Bowling’ bank which fetched $49,200; a ‘Seek Him Frisk’ bank by an unknown manufacturer, featuring a dog chasing a cat up a tree, which sold for $48,000; a ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ bank made by W.S. Reed Co which sold for $33,210; a J. & E. Stevens ‘Dentist’ bank which sold for $27,675; and a German-made Tin Empire Cinema bank which sold for $25,215.

In total, the collection achieved $1,769,753 (Including buyer’s premium).

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