Published: June 20, 2017
Review and Photos by R. Scudder Smith
PORTLAND, ORE. – As our plane descended into the Portland airport, off to our left suddenly Mount Hood appeared, wrapped in snow as if in a fairy tale. Our altitude seemed to be lower than the tips of the mountain top, making it all the more impressive and an exciting start to the convention we were attending. It was noted that this winter the mountain received more than 500 inches of snow and when we saw it there were still about 150 inches of snow left to melt.
We told a couple of friends that we were heading out to a bank convention and generally, actually without fail, people asked, “What bank?” We always wanted to answer “Citi Bank” or “Chase,” but we came clean, mentioning the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America (MBCA), formed in 1958, and the Still Bank Collector’s Club of America (SBCCA), established in 1960. Both clubs have members all over the world and generally each club has its own convention, but every so often the clubs get together for there is an overlap in interests between the two groups.
This year the convention was scheduled for June 8-10, with most of the collectors arriving on Wednesday and departing on Sunday. The Monarch Hotel was chosen as headquarters, and Portland offered interesting events and places to visit. This convention drew 81 members, in addition to partners and guests.
Wednesday is also the start of “room hopping,” a chance to acquire some banks or sell from your collection. The rooms serve as showrooms and if someone leaves the door open, often with a “Banks For Sale” sign out in the hallway, all were welcome to come in for a look. Several rare banks, such as a hippo, changed hands that way.
The key attraction was The Kidd Toy Museum, 1301 SE Grand Avenue, home of a collection assembled by Frank Kidd, who, with his wife Joyce, served as hosts of the convention. “I have been collecting for 52 years,” Frank told us, “starting with trains and cars.” Over the years his interests expanded, and so did his collection. In addition to his early interests, the museum is now filled with a vast treasure of pressed steel trucks, peddle cars, cast iron, wood and tin toys of every description; mechanical and still banks of cast iron, lead, pottery, tin and spelter; and even an impressive display of padlocks, six framed groups each containing 132 examples. When asked about the banks, in particular, Frank said he had about 1,500 mechanical bank and even a higher number of still banks. A real feast for the eyes for this group of collectors.
“Over the years we traveled all over looking for toys, banks and other things,” Joyce Kidd said, adding, “While Frank was searching for his lines of collecting, I was buying bears and dolls. Now both those two interests are part of the museum.”
The museum was open all five days the club members were in town, from 10 am to 6 pm, and everyone visited at least once. There is really more than the eye can take in on one trip, so many members welcomed a return visit.
A bus trip on Thursday, not dampened by a good deal of rain, took in many sights, including fantastic views of the Columbia River, towering waterfalls, a hatchery where salmon of many sizes swam freely before being released into a shoot leading to the Columbia River and the start of a 124-mile swim to the ocean. Lunch was enjoyed by the river with a view of the State of Washington, just across the water, and an occasional tug and barge passing by.
There was a time for club business at the convention and it happened on Friday with the SBCCA and the MBCA directors meeting to discuss future plans, the election of new officers, and the 2018 convention. Next year the still bank people will meet in Marietta, Ohio, while the mechanical bank group will travel to Houston. A new member orientation was held and soon it was time for auction set-up, a period when those who were offering some bank for the convention’s auction would take care of all paperwork. Following a buffet dinner, Doug Riat, auctioneer, attempted to sell the banks put up for sale, with about 50 percent of the lots selling. Among those that changed hands were an aluminum monkey for $1,200, a pelican at $1,600, Brass Pig in High Chair brought $2,300, while Chief Big Moon sold for $2,200, causing a round of applause.
Still banks included the apple bank for $800, Villa went for $375, small blue and white cupola at $90, Sharecropper for $100, Foxy Grandpa brought $70 and Chicago World’s Fair Building, $650. Thursday evening was hosted by Ron Vellegna, SBCCA president.
Saturday was an especially busy period in the life of Portland and the surrounding area, for it was Rose Festival time. Many musical groups and marching bands, along with rose-covered floats and countless walkers, paraded the streets of Portland with the route lined with applauding spectators who enjoyed the sights, in spite of a rainy day.
Added attractions to the parade included tours of several navy ships tied up along the river and an amusement park with many rides that could easily cause an upset stomach. And if the rides did not do it, there were numerous food stands, mounded with french fries and a selection of sweets.
Cocktail hour ended with dinner and an evening hosted by Dr Ray Thomas, MBCA president. It was the official end to an interesting and pleasant time where old friends and collectors met, wonderful sights were seen, The Kidd Toy Museum was not to be missed, and a number of banks changed hands.
Sunday, for those who were not hitting the roads, it was off to the airport heading home and probably wondering what is in store for the 2018 conventions.
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