Vintage Cast Iron Popeye Bank

This example is yet another of the many new fake and reproduction cast iron 'still' or 'dime' banks on the market that can confuse new collectors. Stay alert for these types of items, as new examples featuring different comic characters continue to appear in the cartoon character collectibles niche. Popeye comic characters are particularly popular and so many different types of reproductions and fakes are being made to feature them. Though this item and others like it will often be found described as possibly made by the well known cast iron producer, 'Hubley' it was not made by them in the "1930's or 40's" as we have seen this piece described. This is a recent import from China and can be purchase brand new for a few dollars. See also the matching Olive Oyl character cast iron bank listed in this shop. Both banks came from reproduction wholesale suppliers.

Note that the paint inside the wells in the Phillips head screw holding the two halves together on this bank is still intact. Pristine paint inside the wells of the screw is an indication the item was painted at the factory with that screw in place and it has never been removed. Some sellers who know a Phillips screw would not have originally been used in the making of such an item, were it authentic, may try to suggest this piece was re-painted at a later date. Others will simply remove the too-new screw and replace it with a slotted screw that looks older and 'right.'

Despite the dings in the painted surface applied to this nifty bank to hint it is older, they are false 'wear.' And if you look through the coin slot on back you will see that the inside of the piece actually still shows over-spray from the modern machine used to apply the outside paint at the factory. The paint inside looks very new, and not at all aged, yet the exterior surface of the bank looks grimed, chipped and rusty. The head of the bank shows orange rust peeking through the paint, indicating perhaps the head only was submerged in something damp or kept wet for a time to further 'age' that area. But, in the world of cast iron collectibles, bright orange rust is new rust, it is not an indication of age but of false aging techniques used to try to make the surface of a piece look less modern.

Newer cast iron pieces will seldom meet tightly at all the seams, all the way round, as is common for old, authentic pieces. But images can be taken in such a way as to mask the badly joined pieces, as can be seen in these images. Seams are kept mostly hidden by careful positioning of the item. But on the back view, look inside the red ring and you can see a large gap is present on that side seam.

The images also illustrate well the roughly sanded surface of this contemporary bank and the lack of care that went into finishing it before painting. There is heavy excess flash at the seams, noticeable in the view of the back, just below the ears. Facial details were haphazardly applied and seem incomplete. The facial details are also incorrect. The name of the Popeye character hints at his rather unusual, one-eyed squint which was his trademark look. The eyes on this item are both the same, mere dots of black paint. Obviously this was painted by someone who never watched the cartoons featuring this character, nor read the comics. Popeye famously said, "I yam what I yam." In the case of this bank, it also is what it is. And that is - a new fake.

This item measures approximately 6 3/4 inches tall and it is about 3 inches at the base.

When considering the purchase of a cast iron item keep the tips below in mind. For practice, see how many other tips offered in the list might also be applicable to this item.

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1. New reproductions of vintage cast iron toys/banks will be heavier and less detailed than an original counterpart, if one was ever actually made.

2. The individual pieces often don't fit well together. Look for misalignment's and gaps at seams where the pieces meet.

3. Very fine sand was used in the creation of old cast iron pieces, so expect them to be extremely smooth, with fine detail. Surfaces of old cast iron will feel almost silky to the touch.

4. The makers of newer cast iron pieces use a rougher, less expensive sand for casting that results in a surface that is rough and/or grainy, sometimes pebbled. Detail is usually poor, as well, often bordering on crudeness. If it doesn't look as if a skilled craftsman made it, it's almost certainly a contemporary piece.

5. Look for flash (excess metal) at seams or on design elements - inside the spokes of a wheel, for instance, or inside edges on the coin slot of a bank. Even inside the crevices of intricate details like scroll work can be expected to be well finished in antique pieces. Very little to no flash will be present on an authentically old piece.

6. Visible rough grinding marks are the hallmark of the modern power tool. Finishing marks should be virtually invisible on an old piece.

7. Expect an old piece to have a better level of detail to the paintwork. On figural pieces, look carefully at faces as they should not look crudely (quickly) painted. Newer pieces are usually mechanically spray painted with a thin layer of paint, although not always.

8. Patina can be faked, so look for evidence it has been wiped on with a brush or rag at the factory. Other ways to quickly give the appearance of age to new cast iron is to bake newly applied paint in an oven or bury an item briefly to achieve some authentic appearing rusted areas.

9. Sandpapering or abusing an item in some other way after new paint has been applied is done in an effort to mimic the appearance of play wear or use. New items may have 'wear,' but it often won't be in areas of the piece where it would logically be found. Wear in inappropriate areas and pristine surfaces where wear should logically be expected, invariably equals fakery.

10. Authentically old pieces won't be held together with modern Phillip's head screws. However, seeing a slotted screw under 'original' paint doesn't automatically mean a piece must be all right. Since collectors got wise to this fact, many newer cast iron fakes and reproductions are now produced with slotted screws that closely resemble those that would be found in authentic pieces.

11. Reproductions and fantasy items currently in production today are rarely marked. They might originally sport a paper label but, generally, soon after delivery to the first wholesale buyer a paper label tends to `fall' off.

Quite a few 19th and early 20th century foundries incorporated a mark, name or patent number into their molds. However, since some reproductions are produced from molds made from an original piece, as with many other types of collectibles, a maker's name isn't always proof the item is authentic.

Item ID: 2007RP00087

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


Ruby Lane, Comparisons, CA   

Illustrations and Characteristics for Help in Identifying Many Confusing New Items

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Item listings in this shop are intended to be viewed for educational purposes, only. Items in this shop are not for sale.