Friday, August 1, 2008

Automatic Teller Bank from the Caldwell Banking & Trust Co. Ltd.

The attached pics are of an old Advertising Automatic Teller Bank that I was happy to find and purchase recently. It is made by the National Recording Safe Co. Chicago USA and has three slots for cents, two for nickels, two for dimes, one for quarters, one for halves and a hole on the top for rolled up bills. The bank is made of stainless steel and cast iron with an advertising plate riveted to the top. The bank measures 2.5 inches high by approximately 3.50 inches across. It is quite heavy compared to later types that came with aluminum bases.

As you can see, what makes this one special is that is comes from the Caldwell Banking & Trust Co in Caldwell, Idaho...the bank found and operated by A.K. and Frank Steunenberg. You can see pictures of the exterior and interior of the bank building toward the end of this blog.

The base reads US PAT 758340 which would place it circa 1904. These almost never come with keys and that is the case here. The bank customer would save their change and dollars and when the bank was full they would take it to the cashier/teller. The teller would have the key, open the bank and place the money into the persons account. The process would then repeat itself and encourage customers to save more money. I have never seen one before from the Caldwell Bank and was particularly pleased to find this early version that dates to the period of Frank and A.K. The picture to the left is of the interior of the Caldwell Bank with A.K Steunenberg at the back window.

Has anyone else seen one of these small automatic teller banks before or perhaps have more information? It is in great shape with the wear, pitting and patina that gives it the unique character that can only come with the passing of time. To think it might well have been is use when Frank and A.K. were still alive and at the bank is quite fascinating.

Since it doesn't have a key, I have yet to open it. I tried a little lock picking but don't want to cause any damage. I located some information and a template from online as it seems a lot of folks are in need of keys for these old advertising banks. There are a few coins jingling around so it will be interesting to see if those were recent additions or from the distant past. I will let you know.

I think I will start filling the bank with my own coins and dollars as I certainly need to be saving some!

Here is a letter from A.K. written to his friend, colleague and bank VP Montie Gwinn (offline) just after the assassination of Frank Steunenberg. It identifies the principal stakeholders in the Caldwell Banking & Trust Company and gives one a good sense of the devastation A.K. felt over the loss of his brother. This letter comes courtesy of the College of Idaho Smylie Archives where you can view the George L. Crookham Jr., papers comprising documents and correspondence from from the administration of Governor Frank Steunenberg and the Steunenberg family (COI GLC Papers are offline).


Anonymous said...

Did you ever find a key for this?

John T. Richards Jr. said...

None yet. I keep trying small keys. Been going to take it in to a lock smith but haven't gotten there yet. Besides, would spoil the mystery of the few coins inside but curiosity will get the best of me eventually. John

Unknown said...

So about that key? I know its years later but I have to ask, Any luck!?

John T. Richards Jr. said...

Still leaving it a mystery. Maybe when I retire later this year and will go in there seeking my riches!