Q: At a local thrift store, I recently purchased a Punch and Judy mechanical bank for $18. It looks old and is made of heavy cast iron. The bank is in the shape of a puppet-show stage, with Punch and Judy performing. If you place a coin in the plate Judy is holding and push a lever on the side of the bank, Judy turns to deposit the coin in the bank while Punch moves forward and brings down the club he’s holding in his hand. The bank is 6 inches high by 5 1/2 inches wide by 2 inches deep. What is my bank worth?
A: The original and now antique “Punch and Judy Bank” was patented in 1884 by Shepard Hardware Co. of Buffalo, N.Y. Shepard produced high-quality cast-iron mechanical banks until the early 1890s. Reproductions of the bank have been made in abundance since the 1950s, and it is extremely likely that your bank is one of the many reproductions. Originals are 6 1/8 inches wide; most reproductions were cast from originals—and, like yours, are smaller than originals. Genuine old Punch and Judy banks sell for close to $4,000 if the original paint is in good condition. Reproductions, depending on quality and age, sell for under $20 up to about $150. Consult an expert about the age and quality of your bank.