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Little Jocko Musical Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - April, 1960

60-04.JPG (18668 bytes)The organ grinder with his pet performing monkey was a normal part of the street scene some years ago and children derived fun and pleasure in giving the monkey a penny and listening to the catchy tunes of the loud but pleasant music emanating from the hand cranked organ. The monkey would then, in the usual routine, do a turn around dance in acceptance of the coin. The organ grinder and his monkey would be an unusual sight these days, however, they are brought vividly to mind as we reach No. 83 in our numerical classification of the mechanical banks. This bank is the Little Jocko Musical Bank and both the monkey and the organ, as well as the music, are respectively well represented and played.

The Strauss Manufacturing Company of New York made the Little Jocko Musical Bank and they used the terminology "Patent App’d For" and "Trade Mark" on the front of the bank. So far the writer has been unsuccessful in locating any patent papers or evidence of the trade mark that would apply to the bank. Therefore, to the best of his knowledge the exact date of the manufacture of the bank is not known. It is the opinion of the writer, however, that it dates in the 1910 to 1915 period.

The bank shown is in very fine original condition and was obtained by the writer through the good help of Bill Ginter of Bryan, Ohio. Mr. Ginter’s main interest is in antique firearms, however, he is also active in other specialty collector’s items, as well as an interest in classic cars.

The Little Jocko is a bright attractive bank and the specimen shown has excellent paint with few mars or scratches. The round circle on the front of the bank was caused by the operating crank which in turn marred the paint surface in the fashion shown. The crank is practically flush with the front surface of the bank and thus in operation this marking is unavoidable. The entire organ part of the bank is an all over bright red. The decorations and scroll work on the front are in gold as is the lettering in the name. The wording "Patent Appl’d For" and "Trade Mark" is in black. The scene of the gondola with the gondolier is done in blue, red, brown, white, and yellow with various shadings. This scene is outlined in black and gold to give the appearance of a picture frame. The top of the organ has the statement "A Coin Please!" in black across the front edge. There is also gold outlining on the top. On each end of the organ there is a rhyme in black, "Drop a Coin in the Slot – Then turn the Crank around – You will see the Monkey Dance – And hear the Music sound." This rhyme is on a gold background with yellow scroll work outlining and below it appears an open sheet of music. The back of the bank is very interesting as it shows a large pipe organ with fifteen pipes that have a different type hat on top of each one. Nine of the pipes have character faces on them and each face is different but all have their mouths open as though singing. The pipes are yellow shaded with red and the outline of the pipe organ is gold with a dark blue background. The hats are done in gold and the faces in blue. Underneath the pipe organ appears the following wording in black, "Strauss Mf’g. Company, New York, U.S.A."

The monkey on top of the organ is brown and he has a blue hat and trousers and a red jacket. The coin cup beside the monkey is gold with a white line around the bottom. There is a locking coin trap on the underside of the organ. The handle of the crank is a wooden knob. The bank is made of tin and sheet iron and the monkey is a lead-like material.

To operate the bank a coin is inserted in the provided slot inside the coin cup. It is necessary to push the coin in this slot rather than drop it in. The crank is then turned clockwise and music starts to play and the monkey dances around in a circle pivoting on his left foot. The entire piece plays through and then stops automatically regardless of the continued turning of the crank. It is necessary to insert another coin to resume the action and music.

The Little Jocko Musical Bank with its attractive appearance and good action accompanied by music is a desirable bank to have in a collection. It’s a difficult bank to find in complete original condition and so far there are four, possibly five, known to exist in private collections.


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