Published: October 5, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy BP Auctions
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILL. – Auctioneer Bob Peirce of BP Auctions said there were about 25 bidders in his gallery for his two-day September 24-25 still and mechanical bank sale, but many more were online.
“I will have packed well over 140 packages by the time we’re said and done,” Peirce told us.
Bank collectors often buy more than one item in any given sale, which makes the whole experience a little more palpable to those seeking shipping. “You’re not spending money getting to and from the auction, that saves people quite a bit of money,” Peirce said, though he balanced that with the fact that he had three people travel from California to attend his sale.
Peirce’s bank auction is typically a once-a-year affair in September, but this year he had an extra sale in April to herald the release of Guy Williams’ 5,000-strong bank collection that will be offered at this firm for years to come.
Williams’ collection made for 179 of the 1,000 lots on offer in Peirce’s September sale. His belongings were led by a cast iron Darktown Battery mechanical bank, which brought $3,565. The bank had good, bright colors throughout.
Williams’ celluloid Woodrow Wilson bank proved the leader among the 80 or so pocket banks in the sale when it fetched $1,560. Circa 1916, Peirce said it was “the nicest condition I’ve ever seen – that was a wonderful bank.”
Other highlights among the celluloid pocket banks included “The Boy Scout Elephant For Chicago,” released by the Washington Park National Bank, which brought $431. An “Auto-Wheel Coaster Wagon” bank released by the Buffalo Sled Co of North Tonawanda, N.Y., sought to inspire children to save coins for their own toys. It sold for $316. An example for “Stag Shirts,” a clothing company, featured a leaping stag over a freshly folded button down, and it sold for $236. Many of the others sold in group lots.
The sale’s top lot at $4,140 was a cast iron Ulysses S. Grant safe bank by Harper.
“It’s a rare bank to come by in any condition,” Peirce said. The ultimate buyer was able to inspect it in person and left a winning absentee bid.
Among the building-form banks, top honors went to a Home Bank with crown in excellent-plus condition. It sold for $3,565. Peirce said it was out of a collection in Texas.
Rising to $2,300 was a European brass Castle still bank measuring 8 inches high. Said Peirce, “It’s a very difficult bank to get, we don’t know the name of the castle because there’s no writing, but it’s a European example. We had a good absentee bid on it and it was bought by an American collector.”
The sale offered two Gingerbread House banks and bidders flocked to the example that sold on the second day for $2,070. It came with its key and a vibrant pink and silver paint. The example on the first day had a replaced trap with more paint, though its colors were subdued and bidders let that one go for $345.
There were plenty of good banks in the $600 range, including a cast iron Lost Dog still bank at $632; a gilt-painted Honey Bear still bank, $600; an Elephant With Three Stars mechanical bank in near mint condition, $600; and a Clown bank in silver with red highlights at $600.
Ever the pragmatist, Peirce said, “Overall it was a pretty nice auction, I think the prices were fair, I don’t think anything was far over.”
His next sale will be in April 2022 when he combines more offerings from Williams with two other single collections.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For more information, 262-797-7933.
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