Condition quality, design appeal and crossover potential recommend this wonder of 19th Century engineering. Presented is a “Darktown Battery” baseball mechanical bank in full working order. Several collector genres, including vintage baseball memorabilia, mechanical toy banks and Black Americana, are engaged by this smoothly operating antique piece, assuring a great level of interest.
Three meticulously crafted player figures stand ready for action atop a base decorated with crossed bats and baseballs centered between the title words "Darktown" and "Battery". The pitcher’s right hand has a locking thumb which clamps down on a coin when his arm is moved to the rear. An activating pin behind the catcher causes the coin to be pitched past the batter into a trap-door in the catcher’s chest, which opens to the coin reservoir below. The moving parts include all three player's heads, the batter’s arms, the pitcher’s right arm and the catcher’s trap door, which all function simultaneously with clockwork efficiency when the activating pin is depressed. Upon repeated testing the pitcher's accuracy has proven true with coins hitting the mark as intended.
Credit for the design and patent of this Victorian Era treasure is attributed to James H. Bowen of Philadelphia, PA and the manufacturer is J. & E. Stevens of Cromwell, CT. A patent date of "Feb 2, 1875" is impressed into the underside stopper disc, which though absent a 1/2 x 1/4" section of surface metal, remains serviceable. Dimensions are approximately 7-1/4” at the highest point and 9-3/4 x 2-5/8” at the base. Marked by overall moderate age-appropriate wear, this captivating specimen shows handsome quality from end to end, with an appealing degree of original paint and well-cast character detail definition. In light of its considerable age and remarkable design, this mechanical marvel rates as a true collectible classic.