Lion Hunter Bank
The thoughts of Africa, wild game and lion hunting certainly have a direct appeal to most men and therein lies the particularly desirable subject matter of the mechanical bank picked as No. 71 in the numerical classification of mechanical banks. This bank, The Lion Hunter, as seen in the picture, truly depicts the intrepid wild game hunter about to shoot the lion.
The bank was designed and patented by C.A. Bailey, August 22, 1911. In this case Bailey covered the bank by a design patent and he claimed coverage for the ornamental designing of the bank itself. It is a large size bank and quite attractive and showy. There has always existed some conjectures as to whether or not the figure of the hunter represented Teddy Roosevelt. It is well to mention that Bailey also patented and designed the well known Teddy and the Bear Bank and the figure of the hunter on this bank does, of course, represent Teddy Roosevelt. As to the figure on the Lion Hunter, while there is some resemblance to T.R., it is the writers opinion that it is not intended to represent him. Based on the design picture of the Lion Hunter Bank furnished by Bailey to the Patent Office it was not his intention that the figure of the hunter represent Roosevelt. In any event, Bailey amply protected the bank by the design patent and it was put into production and manufactured by the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut.
The bank shown is in just about as fine condition as it is possible to find a bank. It has been in the writers collection for some years and was obtained from an antique dealer in New England. The paint and decorative effects are in excellent condition. For one thing the rock-like formations on the bank still have the original mica or silica like finish that was originally applied to give a realistic appearance to the rocks. The overall base of the bank is painted a greenish gold and the foliage is highlighted in bronze and shades of gold. The hunter has a tan uniform and gray hat. His puttees are green with gold buttons and his cartridge belt is also gold. His silver gun has a maroon butt and his hands and face are flesh toned. The lion is brown and his open red mouth displays large white teeth. The bank, while not bright as to coloring, is actually a very showy handsome piece and, as mentioned before, quite realistic.
The action of the bank is rather clever. The shooting device on the barrel of the gun is pulled back and cocked into position. In so doing the hunters head snaps into aiming position. A coin is then placed on the barrel of the gun as shown in the picture. The lever, located between the hunter and the lion, is then pressed and the hunters head snaps back and the coin is fired toward the lion. The lion in turn rears back on his haunches and the coin is deflected into the receptacle which is located under the lion. Upon releasing the lever the lion returns to the position shown in the picture. The gun is so constructed that a paper cap may be used in the operation, thus providing a realistic noise to accompany the firing of the gun.
The Lion Hunter is an excellent example of a mechanical bank. Its good action and fine appearance make it a "must" item for the collector of mechanical banks.