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Jonah and the Whale Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - May, 1953

53-05.JPG (7199 bytes)

An added point of interest in collecting mechanical banks is the historical aspect connected with certain of them. They form a special group unto themselves and these will be dealt with in subsequent articles as we are concerned with one in particular at this point that has both historical and biblical reference. This is Jonah And The Whale, No. 20 in our listing.

There has existed some degree of confusion about Jonah And The Whale as there are two types that were made. One is quite rare and the other is more or less common. Their operation is entirely different and appearance-wise they don’t look anything alike. Then too, the more common type has the name Jonah And The Whale cast on the side in very large letters while the rarer type has no name inscribed on it. At present we are concerned with the rare specimen as shown, and the other type will be covered in a future article.

The bank shown is in the excellent collection of Andrew Emerine, one of the pioneer collectors of mechanical banks, and through his courtesy he furnished certain information about the bank.

Unfortunately, to date, there exists no information as to the origin of the bank. There are no markings or patent dates on the bank and no patent papers or catalogs have appeared describing or picturing it. It is even difficult to date the time or period of the bank’s manufacture. Mr. Emerine obtained the bank from an antique dealer, Robert Beveridge of Albany, N.Y., in the middle 1930’s. It was the first one to turn up at the time and, of course, created quite a sensation among the mechanical banking clan.

The bank shown is in mint condition in all respects and undoubtedly was never in a child’s possession for any length of time. It operates as follows: A coin is placed in the small boat-shaped holder located by the whale’s tail, then the lever, located midway on the base beside the whale, is pressed. The boat-shaped holder shoots forward and the coin drops through a slot into the square-shaped receptacle located under the whale. At the same time, the whale opens its large mouth and the head and shoulders of Jonah emerge from the whale face up. The whale also flips its tail up in the air during the action. To reset the bank a small knob-like lever located at the end of the tail is pulled back and the figure of Jonah goes back inside the whale.

The bank is painted in attractive colors. The top of the base in front of the whale is a replica of the seashore with stones, shells, and a turtle, all painted in natural colors. From there back, blue waves are shown. The whale is a true whale color with red eyes and light color underneath the jaws. Jonah’s face is painted naturally and he has a black cloak. The sides and ends of the base are a dull red with gold trim.

The bank is a very rare and interesting item and difficult to find. Apparently a limited number were manufactured and it must not have sold too well originally. Perhaps the subject matter of Jonah coming out of the whale didn’t appeal to the public but, of course, this makes it all the more interesting to the collector today. The opposite is true of the other Jonah And The Whale and it obviously had wide popular appeal in the period of being on the market.

It might be well to note that the rare Jonah And The Whale is often referred to as Jonah And The Whale On Pedestal and Jonah And The Whale-Jonah Emerges From Whale. So far there are only two of these banks known to exist in private collections.


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