Determining if an antique coin bank is worth $5 or $500 may be easier than you think. The search can be challenging and will require some investigative work, but it may just be rewarding in the long run.
Antique Coin Bank Values
Examine the antique coin bank in question. Make good notes of any markings, dates, or company logos that exist on the item. Determine if your bank should be categorized as a still bank (a bank that sits without moving) or if it is a mechanical bank (a bank that has moving parts).
Be sure to note color, style, measurements, and condition. If the bank appears cracked or chipped, or if some mechanical parts are inoperable, or it has paint missing, these will negatively impact the value.
Visit the local library. Value guides on antiques and collectibles are a great place to start. Keywords to look up include; bank, banks, antique bank, coin bank, still bank, mechanical bank, and toy banks. If you happened to notice a particular company name on your bank, try looking up that name in the antique guides, or in the library directory for more information on that manufacturer.
Additionally, the library may have an online newspaper archive database. Searching for the same keywords may bring up a company advertisement of the particular bank in question.
Search the Internet for information on your antique coin bank using the same keywords or company information. As the results may be overwhelming, you may want to specify "still bank" or "mechanical bank" in your search. An example of a descriptive search using keywords only would be "still bank horse cast iron."
Another option is to search for only "image results." These results will produce photographs only of your criteria, and spotting the bank may be easier. Alternative online searches would be searching antique stores, collectors of banks, or collector clubs.
Once you have obtained information on your bank, it's time to compare your bank's condition with stated values. In most cases it's safe to use a one (poor) through 10 (mint) grading system. Ensure that your appraisal guide or a website value is current, and make a fair determination on your antique coin bank. It may also be a good idea to cross reference a few sources and average the value as market values may fluctuate.
If you have followed all the above steps, but still are drawing a blank on your bank, consult an antique shop or dealer who specializes in banks. You may end up paying for an appraisal, but that would be worth it if you have an elusive rare bank.
Keep in mind that auction sites are a guide for cross-referencing but not a stable indicator of value as supply and demand are constantly changing.
Use extreme caution with antique cast iron banks. Both still and mechanical reproductions have been produced over the years, and some still are in production today. The Internet has many valuable resources for learning about these type of reproduction banks and how to spot them. Don't fret, as some reproductions are still collectible and worth money.