Catching onto an idea suggested a number of years ago by dealer Leon Weiss of Gemini Antiques, the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America and the Still Bank Collectors Club of America conducted a joint convention on June 28″0 at the Crowne Plaza. “It turned out to be quite a success, with close to 200 people attending and a full schedule of events, including a seminar, auctions for both clubs, tours of area collections, business meetings and lots of selling from room to room in the hotel,” Leon Weiss, chairman of the convention, said.
On Thursday, the first day of regular scheduled events, buses transported guests to the home of Robert and Judy Brady to view a prime collection of mechanical banks, still banks and cast iron toys. All were in pristine condition, beautifully displayed in lighted showcases, representing countless hours of chasing choice objects and restoring them, as needed, to almost “out of the box” condition.
On that evening, everyone enjoyed the hospitality of RSL Auction Co., at a cocktail reception and dinner at Richard Opfer Auctioneering, located just down the street from the hotel, to look over a selection of mechanical and still banks, toys, train stations and Americana that was to be offered at auction on Sunday, following the close of the convention on Saturday. A good time was had by all, enjoying tables laden with good things to eat and inspecting the 621 lots to be offered in three days.
The schedule on Friday included time for each organization to conduct a board of directors meeting, followed by a seminar on “Cleaning and Care of Mechanical and Still Banks” by Robert Brady and Jim Yeager. Those attending learned of cleaning products, with Bon Ami heading a list of general cleaners, and shoe polishing brushes to remove dirt and grime, all used with a degree of testing and caution. A reception and buffet dinner included a business meeting of the still bank collectors, followed by an auction of mechanical banks, with Oliver Clark as auctioneer, wielding the gavel as well as throwing in a few jokes between lots.
A still bank auction got Saturday off to a good start during a continental breakfast sponsored by four auction companies: Bertoia Auctions, Morphy Auctions, Opfer Auctioneering and RSL Auction Co. Auctioneer Doug Riat, in-coming president of the Still Bank Collectors Club from Lawrence, Kan., ran the sale, which went until late morning, ending just in time for members to board buses and visit the home and collection of Greg and Lisa Barnhill.
A violent storm went through the area on Friday night, bringing down many trees and causing a major power outage. As a result, the Barnhill collection was viewed in natural light which did not reduce, in any way, the enthusiasm visitors showed for the shelf upon shelf of both still and mechanical banks. Lunch was also served at the Barnhill home, with tables and chairs on the large terrace area behind the house.
A sit-down dinner, along with a meeting of the mechanical bank collectors, concluded the evening and the convention.
As is the custom of bank conventions, collectors bring banks that they hope to sell, and also do some good buying during the four days. Those who have things to offer leave the door to their room open, inviting shoppers to come in and have a look. The number of objects for sale varies from room to room, with some collectors offering a hundred or more pieces, while others show up with less than a dozen. “Shopping the rooms is all part of being there and a very popular part of the convention,” Leon Weiss said. He added, “We are always interested in increasing the ranks of both clubs and encourage collectors to find out more about us and join the fun.”
The Mechanical Bank Collectors of America was founded in 1958 and more information is available at www.mechanicalbanks.org . In 2013, the club will hold its convention, the 56th annual, on September 26′9 at The Inn on the Lake, Canandaigua, N.Y.
The Still Bank Collectors Club of America will have its 48th annual convention on June 6‸, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg in Chicago. For more information about the club, founded in 1966, visit www.stillbankclub.com .