Mechanical banks with a circus motif form a very desirable group of banks that offer good action, a variety of types, and colorful specimens. As we reach No. 90 in the numerical classification we come to one of the banks in this group, namely the Hoop-La Bank, which is of English manufacture. Two other English made mechanicals fit in the circus group, the Clown Bank (Bust) and the Clown Bank (Tin).
The circus theme is well represented by a number of the American made banks and two of these have been covered in past classification articles, the Circus Bank (HOBBIES, October, 1952) and the Clown On Bar Bank (HOBBIES, April, 1956). Two possible border-line cases of the circus motif that have also appeared in the articles are Professor Pug Frogs Great Bicycle Feat (HOBBIES, January, 1953) and the Acrobat Bank (HOBBIES, September, 1958). The other American banks in the group are Trick Dog Bank, Circus Ticket Collector, Clown On Globe, Humpty Dumpty, Elephant And Three Clowns On Tub, and Jumbo. There is also every possibility that several other of the elephant type mechanical banks could be classed in the group.
The Hoop-La Bank was made by John Harper & Company of England and the design registration was under the date of April 5, 1897. The action of the bank is the same as the American made Trick Dog Bank patented in 1888 and similar to another English bank brought out in 1909, John Bulls Money Box (HOBBIES, September, 1957). The Hoop-La was apparently a popular bank for Harper as they featured it in their catalogs over a number of years and as late as the 1920 period.
The bank pictured was obtained by the writer several years ago from David Hollander, the well known antique dealer of Riverdale, N.Y. It was formerly in the collection of the late Walter P. Chrysler, the famous automobile magnate and avid collector of mechanical banks. The bank shown is in good condition, however, the paint is somewhat worn and chipped. This same condition exists with the other Hoop-La banks the writer has seen in other collections.
While somewhat the worse for wear the colors on the bank under discussion are still quite bright. The clowns outfit is an overall striking yellow and the large collar, pockets, and cuffs are in red. He has white stockings and his shoes are tan with red buckles. The three peaks of his hair are black as are the buttons and belt of his costume. Red markings appear on his face. The dog is white and the barrel is red with black banding. The top and bottom of the base are brown and the front, back, and end plates are green. The wording "Hoop-La Bank" is in gold.
To operate the bank a coin is placed in the dogs mouth, then a lever in the right end of the bank is depressed and the dog springs forward and upward through the hoop and throws the coin into the barrel. The dog is manually replaced in position for future operation. The action is fast, simple, and quite pleasing.
The Hoop-La Bank, like a number of the English banks, is not an easy item to add to a collection and to date less than eight are known to exist in private collections.