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Bull Dog Savings Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - May, 1954

54-05.JPG (23803 bytes)

The fascinating appeal that mechanical banks have for the bank collector is largely due to their animated action, ingenious mechanism, and the method whereby the coin is deposited in the bank. Certainly the Bull Dog Savings Bank, No. 29 in our numerical classification, is one of the outstanding mechanical banks from each of the above standpoints.

The bank was patented by Enoch R. Morrison of New York City, Aug. 13, 1878, and manufactured by Ives Blakeslee & Company of Bridgeport, Conn. It’s interesting to note the patent papers covering the bank show only the figure of the dog. There is no figure of the man. In his place is a simple clamp-type coin holder. We can assume that the figure of the man was added as an afterthought to make the bank more interesting.

The bank shown is in fine all around condition with no repairs. It was obtained a number of years ago from an antique dealer in Providence, R.I. He in turn had purchased the bank in a home in Westerly, R.I., and it had been in the same family since its original purchase.

The bank is painted very simply in a dark brown type lacquer such as used on the Giant Bank and many of the toy pistols. The front base scroll work and parts of the dog and man are highlighted with gold paint.

The operation of the bank is as follows: It is first necessary to wind the spring mechanism with a key which is inserted in the hole shown in the picture. A coin is then pressed into the clamp holder held by the man. A hidden lever, located at the end of the bank just under the figure of the man, is then pressed. The bull dog immediately springs into the air and snaps his mouth open. As he reaches the coin he snaps his lower jaw closed with the coin inside his mouth and immediately returns to his original position on the base of the bank. The coin meantime goes through the hollow body of the dog and drops into the base of the bank. It is well to note that the dog has large teeth that go over the coin and pull it from the clamp held in the man’s hands.

The Bull Dog Savings Bank was apparently one which attained no great degree of popularity during its period of manufacture. There are two factors involved. One is the fact that it was a very high priced item for a toy in the 1880’s. It retailed at $3.50. The other is that its subject theme didn’t have much appeal to a parent buying a toy for their child. Apparently it was thought that the ferocious looking dog was biting the man. Actually the man is offering the dog a morsel of food as represented by the coin.

It’s well to point out that many of the mechanical banks have clever mechanical action but the coin has no particular connection with the action other than being automatically deposited into the bank. Others have nice action in which the coin plays a part or even represents something other than the coin. An example of this latter type is the Darktown Battery wherein the coin represents a baseball thrown from the pitcher to the catcher. The Girl Skipping Rope is a good example of the former type. It has exceptionally fine action but the coin merely drops into the bank when the starting lever is pressed.

The Bull Dog Savings Bank is a fine addition to any collection and was a favorite of the late Walter P. Chrysler, an avid mechanical Bank Collector.

 

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