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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Mechanical Banks: The Giant Bank

Author: F.H. Griffith

( Article orginally published July 1952 by Hobbies )

In occupying tenth position in our listing of mechanical banks, an uglier, more grotesque, less attractive bank than the Giant couldn't be picked. Of course, this fact in itself is the contributing factor that makes it rare and extremely desirable to a collector. Apparently there isn't too much known about the background of the Giant bank. There are no markings of any kind and so far no patent papers have been found. It was definitely made in the 1880's as an old catalog discussed further on in the article proves this point. There are certain features that would indicate the work of the H. L. Judd Company of Wallingford, Conn.; who in the 1880's made a number of mechanical banks such as Gem, Dog On Turntable, Mosque, Miniature Bucking Ram, and others. These banks have one thing in common with the Giant and that is the use of a brown or bronze type lacquer finish. However, it's also possible that the Giant could haw been manufactured by the Trenton Lock and Hardware Company of Trenton, N. J., who made the Pelican bank. Their type workmanship and paint on the Pelican is similar to that of the Giant.

The bank shown was obtained from B. H. 0'Connell of Binghamton, N. Y. The paint which is entirely different from that on the banks covered so far is in excellent condition. The base is a brown colored lacquer and the figure a gold tinted lacquer. The bank is original with the exception of the lever protruding from the base, which when pressed causes its operation. This lever was supplied through the good help of Andrew Emerine, one of the leading collectors of mechanical banks. The upper part of the rock-'type formation in the back of the figure has one peak brcken off. This missing piece in no way affects the operation of the bank and the fact it's broken off is not too obvious from an appearance standpoint so no repair has been made.

Through the years of collecting the writer has had only one opportunity of obtaining a Giant bank and, of course, it is the one pictured. It has always been a policy to have as near perfect specimens as possible in the collection. As example, over the period of time in collecting banks the writer has owned three Girl Skipping Rope banks, finally getting the nice specimen now in the collection. Of course, the rarer and more desirable a bank is, the more difficult this is to accomplish. Generally speaking a collector buys a bank in most any condition as long as he doesn't have it. This particularly applies to rare banks.

The Giant operates as follows: The lever is first pressed and he raises both arms threatening the operator with the club in his right hand. At the same time his lower jaw drops and he sticks out a red tongue. The coin is put on his tongue and the lever released. He swallows the coin and it is automatically deposited in the rock-like formation in back of the figure. His arms drop to the position shown.

Needless to say, the appearance of this bank contributes to its rarity. Picture yourself, in the period, buying a bank for your small son to encourage his saving. If there was a Darktown Battery or most any of the other mechanical banks on display with you would probably not buy the Giant due it's apppearance.

The writer was fortunate recently in adding to his collection a rare catalog which pictures the Giant bank. This was obtained through the help of C.E.H. Whitlock of New Haven, Conn. The catalog was issues in 1885 by the Unexcelled Fireworks Company in New York City. In with the toy pistols and other fireworks is the picture of the Giant Bank. A sub-title calls it "The Giant Tha Jack Killed" and lists it at $8.50 a dozen. It was a point of unusual interest to find that a firewworks concern had sold a mechanical bank. Then too, the authentic period of manufacture is established by the date of the catalog.There are eight of these banks known to exist in private collections.

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