Amusing a family of four young children can be a constant challenge to ingenious parents — particularly if it’s constructive amusement.

Francis Morse of Dalton accepted that challenge last spring. The results have been nothing short of amazing. The children have been more than amused. Mr. Morse has resigned his engineering job with General Electric. The Morses’ Dalton Division Road home basement now harbors a two-man assembly line, and a new manufacturing firm is aborning in the Berkshires.

What Morse devised for educational and practical amusement was a novel transparent plastic bank called a Rotobank.

The bank accepts nickels, dimes and quarters in a single slot, whirls each coin separately around and deposits it in one of three compartments at the bottom in plain view.

The idea, quite naturally, appealed to banks. The Pittsfield Cooperative Bank was the first customer and now holds exclusive rights for the distribution in Pittsfield. The bank gives a Rotobank to anyone opening a serial share account in their child’s name. The Lee Savings and Great Barrington Savings banks also have the Rotobank.

Mr. Morse now has about 30 other banking institutions throughout New England and New York as customers and the market is growing.

The parts are molded at the Pittsfield Molding Co. and assembled in the Morse basement. Since manufacturing operations started two months ago, more than 100,000 have been sold and distributed.

Mr. Morse has filed an application for a patent with the U.S. Patent Office through Aram Boyajian, local patent agent. This is the Morse Manufacturing Co.’s first product but the owner said there will soon be more on the market. He is currently looking for a small plant where he can carry on his assembly operations.

The operation of the bank is based on an ingenious device using gravity as the secret. Friends and relatives may spend approximately $2.50 trying to determine how it works.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.