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Unusual Money Boxes

These old fashioned money boxes for children have an air of nostalgia about them. Most are home made whilst others might have been professionally made. They all have the same principle in that they are made to represent ordinary furniture of the 1940s and 1950s but are too big to be doll's house furniture but small enough to be; perhaps; an apprentice piece. Money is saved by depositing it in the drawer and when the drawer is closed it disappears until either Mum or Dad can retrieve it for you. The exception to the rule is the combination safe money box which is rather unique and never started life as one but is worthy of comment here.


Combination Money Box

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This toy combination money box is not all what it seems. It was never designed as a child’s money box but after serving its main purpose for many years it was salvaged and turned into one.

So what was it in its youth; what secrets does it hold ?

The Keyless Lock Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, started making these small Post Office Safe doors from as early as 1892. It was the edge of modern technology in its day manufacturing keyless locks and complete Post Office outfits. They were made with heavy rolled high grade brass, light, strong and rigid.

They were installed in post offices and apartments as mail boxes or safety deposit boxes. They would be housed in a wooden cabinet or secure area and access by the post office would be from a lock door to the unit and your post inserted.

Your allocated Post Office Box number would be printed on the front on the glass panel. A quick inspection through the glass would indicate whether or not you had any mail; and if so; you would unlock the door using your given unique combination numbers.

The boxes were rented and the combination could be easily changed for the next user.

This is the Grecian style model produced from 1955 to1985 and as the photo of the open doors shows, this model was made in 1964. To open this particular safe you have to :-

Turn dial and start at ‘A’ ; then turn dial clockwise 3 complete turns and stop at ‘A’. This clears any previous failed attempts.
Next continue to turn dial clockwise to ‘F’ and stop.
Next turn dial anti clockwise 1 complete turn and stop at ‘F’ again; then continue anti clockwise and stop at ‘A/B’.
Turn dial clockwise and stop at ‘E’.
Open the door by turning the knob to the left and pull.
Close by slamming shut.

I do not know when this system of Post Office boxes was changed to a more modern system but I guess that by the mid 1980s they were all redundant; hence the reason why there are so many collectors of them.


Desk model money box

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This interesting desk model money box appears to be an ingenious apprentice piece made in the 1940s or 1950s according to the person from whom I bought it.

The left and right top drawers only pull out as far as the photo shows. They will not shut closed until an old penny (shown in photo for comparative size) is dropped in. The action of the coin falling in turns a paddle as it drops to the bottom and now allows the drawer to be shut.

The middle left and right drawers are false and do not open.

The left and bottom right drawers cannot be opened, unless you have the special knack on how to do it - and I do.

So I guess that it was only Dad who knew how to empty the money box on special occasions.


Table money box

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Another interesting but simple home made child's money box. Probably made by Dad in the 1940s to take the old fashioned penny; as shown. Emptying the money box was easy; just turn it on its side and push the pivotal base.


Furniture style money box

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These two chest of drawer type money boxes are further examples of what clever Dads could make in the 1940s and 1950s. Both only had the top drawer that pulled open; the remaining drawers are false. Both top drawers accepted an old fashioned penny; the drawer insert on the left is square and the one on the right is round and exactly the size of the penny.

The drawer was pulled open as far as it would go; the penny inserted; and as the drawer shut then the bottom of the drawer, which is hinged, would fall open and the coin drop to the bottom.

To empty the money box then Dad would remove the false bottom in the base as in the example on the left or completely remove the top drawer as in the example on the right.

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Continuing the theme of the 1940s or 1950s Dad home made money boxes; then the left one is another chest of drawers but the right one looks a dining room sideboard. Only the top drawer is functional; the remainder are false.

Operation is exactly the same as in the above two examples with the same size old fashioned penny.

To empty the money box then Dad would remove the false bottom in the base as in the example on the left or unscrew the back of the cupboard with a screwdriver.


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This model was sought after I had watched it on eBay; it sold for £31 with a vast number of bidders.


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Another eBay high value sale at £95.