Published: June 26, 2018
By Bre Day, RSL Senior Auction Specialist
MARIETTA, OHIO – The Still Bank Collector’s Club of America (SBCCA) met for its yearly convention on June 7-9. We checked into the historic and supposedly haunted Lafayette Hotel, which was constructed in 1918. It became clear why the riverfront property along the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers had been designated a historical landmark in Marietta. The foyer was adorned with antique photographs, a ship’s helm-inspired chandelier and a striking grandfather clock. The hotel was named after Marquis de Lafayette, a French hero of the American Revolution.
We were welcomed into the hospitality suite by our gracious convention host’s daughter, Amy Meeks Couch, and her son, Andrew Couch. Andrew was eager and excited to sell Ray Haradin, a member of the SBCCA since the 1980s, a copy of his safe bank DVD he put together with his grandfather, Chuck Meeks. Each member received a copy of The Safe Bank Book by Michael Holtz, which features cast iron safe banks made between 1870 and 1941. The book is truly a work of art, with 272 pages of reference material that includes nearly 500 unique casting variations, 20 company profiles, more than 60 ads from mail order catalogs and much more. The Safe Bank Book is now available for purchase on barnesandnoble.com. Upon leaving the hospitality suite, we also received the added bonus of delicious cookies by a local baker.
There were great banks for all when room trading began as early as Tuesday evening when Don and Betty Jo Heim arrived in town. More than 150 members of the club filled the 77 rooms of the Lafayette. The layout of each room differed, and the hotel’s charm was amplified with the spectacular display of still banks throughout. It was such a pleasure to walk the halls and visit with club members from all over the world. Club members traveled internationally to attend, including John and Adrianne Haley from England and Ulrike Riegraf from Germany.
Day two included a tour of the Children’s Toy & Doll Museum, founded by Sally Hille, and concluded with a dinner river cruise aboard the Valley Gem where we felt the wind on our faces and heard the rush of the river as we paddled down the Ohio River.
Day three commenced with an auction. Auctioneer Doug Rait got the crowd excited with more than 100 banks sold. We then traveled to the home of Chuck Meeks, our wonderful convention host, to view his lifelong collection. His display was impeccable and included hundreds of still banks, mechanical banks, penny toys, advertising, Schoenhut, toy soldiers and more. His great passion for collecting shone through as we toured the halls of both his condominium overlooking the river and his beautiful home in the heart of Marietta.
Everyone also had the opportunity to visit Dr Cox’s collection of porcelain banks, which were very impressive. Following the house tours, the dinner that evening included a magnificent display of safe banks, following the convention’s theme, along with a custom letterhead printed by Chuck. Each member of the club was asked to bring their favorite safe bank for the display and it did not disappoint.
New officers were elected, including Guy Williams as the new president, Dr Ed Brown as vice president, Bob Brady as a member of the board of directors and Bob Southall as a new member of the board of directors. The evening ended with the announcement of next year’s convention in Olathe, Kan., June 4-8, hosted by Ken and Mary Russel. Even if you weren’t successful bidding in the auction earlier that day, each and every member left the convention with a bank that if looked at twice may reveal two animals – a rabbit or a duck.
Those interested in becoming a member of the Still Bank Collector’s Club of America can visit www.stillbankclub.com.
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