Mechanical Bank Trade Cards

‘It’s In The Details’

Title Mechanical Bank Trade Cards
Year Varies
Size Varies
Images Full Color / Single Ink
Type Trade
Number in Set

Mechanical Bank Trade Cards Overview

JE Stevens Mechanical Bank Trade CardThese are trade cards that were used to promote an item – more specifically, mechanical toy banks that deposited coins with a particular motion or action. When a coin was inserted into a part of the bank, a movement would occur to deposit it.

These cards were distributed to advertise the bank, which were manufactured by several companies, including the J&E Stevens Company. Most appear to have been manufactured by that firm but others included the National Novelty Corporation.

Exact dates for the cards aren’t known but most are believed to be from the late 1800s. However, some are from as late as the 1900s. That is evidenced by one that features an older Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt was president of the U.S. from 1901-09 and was famously known for not shooting a bear on a hunting trip in 1902. Coincidentally, that was how the ‘teddy bear’ came to be. The card for this bank is certainly from beyond 1900.

There are two styles of the cards – horizontal cards in full color and vertical cards printed with a single ink color.

Jefferson Burdick listed these in the American Card Catalog and called the full color cards Group 1 and the single-color cards Group 2. The Group 1 horizontal cards measure approximately 3 1/4″ x 5 1/4″ and the Group 2 vertical cards measure about 3 1/4″ x 5 1/2″. In addition, a few of these cards have been seen in larger sizes. Some, it can be debated, are more like advertising sheets as opposed to traditional trade cards.

Some of the banks have cards in both Groups while others may not. Most of the banks were non-sports related. However, a few, including a valuable baseball one, were sports issues. The two groups of cards are connected as the card number is the same for each bank in both series’. For example, the baseball bank is No. 302 in each Group.

These cards are not particularly easy to find but they do exist and eBay usually has a few at any given time. They are a bit more expensive than many trade cards.

Base Ball Bank Dark Town Battery Cards

Dark Town Battery Vertical Trade Card


Unlike some other trade cards, these was printed for only one specific product – a unique toy bank featuring a baseball scene. The bank is a great mechanical piece of history. You can see it in action here.

When a coin was inserted into the hand of the pitcher and a lever was pressed, the coin was pitched to a hole the catcher and deposited as it went past the batter. These banks are still seen today and ones in good working order can be quite expensive.

The baseball bank was cast iron and advertised as being a little more than two inches tall and seven inches long.

The baseball card is one in the series that has both a horizontal trade card and a vertical one. The horizontal one pictured here has a depiction of the bank sold by Hyde and Company in Boston, Massachusetts. However, in true trade card form, that name changes from card to card with each retailer printing their own company name instead. The lithograph on the horizontal card was developed by Gast and Company in New York. Other artwork for other cards was likely produced by some others as well.

The baseball cards in both Group 1 and Group 2 are No. 302.

Cataloging Confusion and Card Numbering

The American Card Catalog took an interesting stance with these cards. Instead of cataloging them as one or two sets, they were categorized as two groups and each given a number in the HB (mechanical bank trade cards).

So, instead of all of the cards being lumped in as, say, HB1, each card in the series had its own HB number (i.e. HB1, HB2, HB3, etc.).

With related to card numbering, the trade cards in the vertical series are numbered in the 300s, leading us to believe that at least that many were produced. However, that may not be the case as not nearly anywhere near that number is known. More likely, the series was skip-numbered to give the illusion that more were printed.

It is possible that more than 300 banks were indeed produced and that earlier ones simply did not have trade cards. But the actual number of different ones that were made is certainly in doubt as Burdick cataloged only 30 in the American Card Catalog.

Finally, there are cards part of this series that were not cataloged by Burdick as they were not likely seen.

Mechanical Bank Trade Cards Checklist

Here is a checklist of the known cards. One column has the American Card Catalog numbers and the other has the card number that is printed on the card.

Also note that many of the cards in Group 1 did not have card numbers printed on them at all.

Cards not cataloged by Burdick are also listed here and identified as such.

Group 1 Cards (Horizontal, Full Color)

  • HB1 – American Eagle Bank – #300
  • HB2 – Bad Accident Bank – No #
  • HB3 – Dark Town Battery Baseball Bank – #302
  • HB4 – French’s Automatic Toy – No #
  • HB5 – Humpty Dumpty Bank – No #
  • HB6 – Jolly N_____ (African American slur) Bank – No #
  • HB7 – Jolly N_____ (African American slur) Bank (5X7)
  • HB8 – Mason Toy Savings Bank – No #
  • HB9 – Punch and Judy Bank – No #
  • HB10 – Speaking Dog Bank – No #
  • HB11 – Stump Speakers Bank – No #
  • HB12 – Trick Pony Bank – No #
  • HB13 – Uncle Sam Bank – No #
  • HB14 – Circus Bank – No #
  • HB15 – Picture Gallery Bank – No #
  • HB16 – Watch Dog Safe – #35

Group 2 Cards (Vertical, One Color)

  • HB25 – American Eagle Bank – #300
  • HB26 – Artillery Bank – #24 and #25 (two banks offered)
  • HB27 – Dark Town Battery Baseball Bank – #302
  • HB28 – Bear Hunt Bank – #333
  • HB29 – Cabin Bank – #275
  • HB30 – Columbus Bank – #396
  • HB31 – Funny Clown Bank – #332
  • HB32 – Kicking Mule Bank – #329
  • HB33 – Owl Bank – #220
  • HB34 – Speaking Dog Bank – #330
  • HB35 – Sportsman Bank – #328
  • HB36 – William Tell Bank – #331
  • HB37 – Teddy & Bear Bank – #341
  • HB38 – Educated Pig Bank
  • HB39 – Indian Camp Bank
  • HB40 – Cabin Bank
  • HB41 – North Pole Bank (5X7) – #286
  • HB42 – Called Out Bank (5X7)

Group 1 Cards not Cataloged by Burdick

  • Trick Dog – No #
  • Safe Deposit – No # (not a mechanical bank but usually counted as part of the series)

Group 2 Cards not Cataloged by Burdick (these are larger and more like flyers as opposed to traditional cards)

  • Boy Scout Bank (5 5/8″ X 9″) – #346
  • Goat Bank (5 5/8″ X 9″) – #123
  • Lion Hunter Bank (5 5/8″ X 9″) – #344

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