The only mechanical bank to feature an ape is our choice as No. 76 in the numerical classification. This bank is the Chimpanzee Bank and strictly defined as an ape it is in a class of its own, however, in the broad definition the bank fits into the monkey group of mechanical banks. This group, by the way, comprises some very interesting mechanical banks. There are the four types of Organ Bank, all of which ring bells in their operation; then there is the rare Monkey Bank (HOBBIES, April, 1958), as well as the elusive, hard to find Little Jocko Musical Bank wherein music is played during the operation of the bank. Two other rather rare items in the monkey group are the foreign made Monkey With Tray and Monkey and Parrot. Then, of course, there is the late, rather common Hubley item, The Monkey and Organ Grinder (Monkey Bank), as well as the desirable Lion and Two Monkeys made by Kyser & Rex. And last, but not least, is one of the outstanding banks in the group, The Monkey and Cocoanut made by J. & E. Stevens Company. The Chimpanzee Bank can, if the collector so chooses, also be classed in the group of house or building type mechanical banks. This is merely a matter of choice or opinion.
The Chimpanzee Bank was patented September 21, 1880, by L. Kyser and A.C. Rex of Philadelphia, Pa., and also manufactured by them under the company name of Kyser & Rex of the same city. The bank as produced closely follows the patent papers and the accompanying drawings. One of the desirable features of the bank is the fact that a coin operates the mechanism and this feature is well covered in the patent papers as follows: "Our invention relates to toy money-boxes in which the insertion of a piece of money causes the figure attached to and forming part of the toy to move; and our invention consists in so constructing the toy that no money can be deposited within the box without first causing a figure to move its head and hand, and, if desired, its whole body, and act as though recording the amount of the deposit in a book which lies open before it, and upon the passage of the money into the box the figure resumes its upright position again, and at the same time it causes a bell to be struck, indicating that it is ready for the next deposit." Also in the patent papers it is interesting to note that the word "monkey" is used in reference to the figure.
The bank shown was obtained by the writer some years ago through the good help of Robert Beveridge of Albany, N.Y. It is completely original with no repairs and the paint is in excellent condition. The colors are as follows: The building is an overall light green with a red base, the windows are outlined in gold, and the tin inner lining of the larger lower windows is painted a light red. The top peak and the archway over the monkey are in red and the lettering of the name is done in gold. The domed perforated section in back of the monkey is white as are the open pages of the book in front of the monkey. The edges of the pages and the covers of the book are gold, the desk or table-like section is brown. The monkey has a blue jacket, white shirt, and his hands and face are brown.
To operate the bank a coin is inserted in the provided slot located to the front of the figure. In inserting the coin it is necessary that a lever across the slot be pushed to the rear by the coin itself. This causes the head of the monkey to nod forward and at the same time his right arm and hand move down on the open book as though noting the deposit thereon. A bell also rings during this action as a finishing touch. The coin is released into the bank and the figure returns to the position as shown in the picture ready again for action.
The Chimpanzee Bank is rather difficult to find in good original condition. It is an attractive item and also has the desirable feature of the coin operated action, thereby making it a fine addition to a collection of mechanical banks.