1896 Bank

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Project by woodrookieII posted 09-02-2015 01:18 AM 1819 views 10 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These old post office box doors are ultra cool. This door came out of a post office in Center Harbor, Hew Hampshire. I actually bought several to make banks as gifts and for upcoming shows. In fact two are already sold and I haven’t even built them yet. These old doors are typically completely solid brass, and I mean completely. Door, frame, gears, springs, screws, cover plate, etc. The big dial as well as the pointer are nickel silver plated brass. The glass is beveled and still has the silver backed gold foil numbers on them.

This particular one was patented in 1896 as stamped on the gears cover. Research indicates the patent was updated in 1898 and a couple more times so I’m very certain this door is either 1896 or 1897.

So as you can tell when they arrive they are pretty skunky. But after a half hour soaking in a 50/50 mixture of coca cola and ammonia, and a little scrubbing with an acid brush, the door and frame come out clean. Dull, but clean. CAUTION: DO NOT PLACE THE BIG DIAL IN THE SOLUTION AS THE PAINT MAY COME OFF NOR THE GLASS. The big dial cleans up very nicely with just a rubbing of steel wool. I also clean the gears with steel wool as well as the beveled glass. Be careful when doing the back of the beveled glass as you don’t want to wreck the numbers.

I then hand rub the entire door and frame with 0000 steel wool to polish it to a bright golden shine. Add a bit of gun oil to the opening mechanism and reassemble. If I know who the bank is going to I can set the combination to the initials of their first and last name.

So that’s the hardest part of this project, cleaning the door. But when done right it should last another 120 years. The body of this bank is red oak with an OCS Mission Maple stain and several coats of poly. The medallion on top comes from South Carolina and is solid brass as well.

Thanks for looking.


8 comments so far

View EggMan's profile


70 posts in 1980 days

#1 posted 09-02-2015 01:28 AM

I like these and have had something similar on my list for a while.

Great job.

View ralbuck's profile


5424 posts in 2472 days

#2 posted 09-02-2015 03:38 AM

Very nicely done and a GREAT SAVE!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Hawaiilad's profile


3295 posts in 3226 days

#3 posted 09-02-2015 04:43 AM

Great job. Where you you purchase the doors?

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View observer100's profile


411 posts in 1316 days

#4 posted 09-02-2015 12:04 PM

Very interesting project! Looks great!

View woodrookieII's profile


273 posts in 2869 days

#5 posted 09-02-2015 12:37 PM

Great job. Where you you purchase the doors?

- Hawaiilad

eBay is a great source for the doors. Be careful about which ones you do end up choosing as some doors will have a frame, but no screw holes to attach the frame to the bank body.


View Mean_Dean's profile


6903 posts in 3353 days

#6 posted 09-02-2015 11:47 PM

Great work saving this old post office box! It makes a wonderful bank, and saves a piece of history!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Woodknack's profile


12431 posts in 2585 days

#7 posted 09-06-2015 05:09 AM

That is a super cool bank.

-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile


7337 posts in 3573 days

#8 posted 09-06-2015 06:02 AM

That is just outstanding. A real nice restoration and finished project.
Going to be a favorite of mine!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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