Recently, these two wonderful gold-chrome, guided-missile banks were donated to our permanent collection. They reflect America’s preoccupation with science fiction and space exploration in the 1950s.
Manufactured in 1957, these mechanical banks were the first items developed by Berzac--a company founded by brothers John and Steven Berzac--after they left their partnership with Duro Mold and started Astro Manufacturing, Inc. In both banks now in our collection, the spring-loaded, vertical-coin-firing mechanism still works! The mechanism would accept coins up to the size of a 50-cent piece. Coins would fire under the nose cone and land inside the body of the missile. A plug at the bottom of the rocket could be removed, using a key, so that saved coins could be harvested.
These banks served as a promotional product for, in this case, the Bank of Weirton, which encouraged those who used it to “SHOOT for Higher Savings.” Other examples, like the silver Astro Manufacturing guided-missile bank in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, bear a sticker that says “Rocket Your Savings Up” (at the American Trust Company of Hannibal, Missouri).
Many truly wonderful things have arrived at the Museum over the last few weeks, so please stay tuned for more features of newly donated items!