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Bull and Bear Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - June, 1961

61-06.JPG (12869 bytes)

Anyone who has an interest in the articles on mechanical banks as published in HOBBIES Magazine is no doubt familiar with the fact of the writer’s special attention to the broad coverage of subject matter as represented by the various banks. This is, of course, just one facet of the writer’s interest, however, it is an important one since quite often the particular subject as represented by a certain bank definitely adds prestige to that bank.

The various different types of subject matter such as historical, political, sports, and so on have been outlined and covered in past articles. However, as we reach No. 96 in the numerical classification of mechanical banks we have chosen a bank that is unique in its theme and representation. The bank is the Bull and Bear and its subject matter has to do with the Stock Exchange.

The Bull and Bear Bank with its stock market theme naturally causes one to think of the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street. This brings mixed emotions to a wide group of the population. To many the disastrous crash of 1929 is an unforgettable event, to others the more pleasant recent years of a rising market is foremost in their thoughts.

There’s no question but that the stock market has become more and more popular with an increasing percentage of the population from all walks of life. There still exists, however, and probably always will exist, a never ending tug of war between the "bulls" and the "bears" in the up and down trend of the market. The Bull and Bear Bank well typifies this struggle as there is no certainty if the bull or the bear will receive the coin. The coin in this case representing the profit and the swinging pendulum represents the trend of the market from "bullish" to "bearish" or vice-versa.

The Bull and Bear Bank has unfortunately an unproven background as to the designer, manufacturer, or definite period in which it was made. Also the specimen shown is the only one that the writer has complete confidence in with respect to definitely having some original authentic parts.

This bank is now in the possession of Leon Perelman and it certainly adds some distinction to his fine growing collection of mechanical banks.

Mr. Perelman obtained the bank from the late David Hollander. It was originally in the collection of Walter P. Chrysler. Mr. Chrysler had obtained the bank from the pioneer dealer Norman E. Sherwood, and Mr. Sherwood found the bank at the site of the J. & E. Stevens Company. This leads to some fairly conclusive information concerning the bank. It is the writer’s opinion that it was designed by Charles A Bailey and most likely produced at the Stevens Company foundry.

As to the number manufactured, the writer has no idea but most likely it was made in very limited quantities. There are numbers of Bull and Bear Banks around which are heavy, cumbersome things in cast iron and brass. These are grotesque fakes and awkward reproductions of the original bank pictured. All these have no connection with the bank under discussion. Most of them were made some 20 to 25 years ago, some in more recent years, and they have, in the writer’s opinion, no value as a collector’s item.

The bank shown is in good original condition with the exception of the bear. It is the writer’s opinion that the cast iron bear is not the original bear intended for the bank. The bull is a lead-like metal similar to Bailey’s Springing Cat (HOBBIES, September, 1952), Chinaman In Boat (HOBBIES, May, 1955), and others of his design.

The workmanship of the bull is finely done, unquestionably original, and it is reasonable to assume that the bear would have originally been made in the same fashion and of the same material as the bull. The balance of the bank, the base and tree trunk, are cast iron and show all evidence of being fine original parts.

Bailey employed this same combination of metals in his Germania Exchange Bank (HOBBIES, March, 1952). The legs and body of the barrel of this bank being cast iron and the figure of the goat in a lead-like material. Bailey’s Bismark Pig (HOBBIES, March, 1956), is also the same combination of the two metals.

The paint on the pictured bank is in good condition and completely original with the exception of the bear. The bull is an overall reddish brown with red nostrils and mouth, the front part of the ears are white, and the eyes are also white with black pupils.

The bear is a dark brown with red mouth. The tree trunk is brown with the stump ends yellow with reddish-brown trim. The base of the bank is an overall green trimmed in red. The base has flowers thereon and these are in yellow and red. The name "Bull and Bear Bank" appears across the front of the base and this lettering is in gold.

As to the operation of the bank, a coin is first placed in the provided slot in the top of the swinging pendulum. When the lever located near the base of the tree trunk is pressed, motivation is applied to the swinging pendulum in such fashion that there is no control or certainty as to the coin swinging to the bull or the bear. In either case the coin is deposited in the provided slot in the top of the respective animal’s head.

In conclusion the writer can only say that circumstances surrounding the origin and background of the Bull and Bear Bank are similar to those of the Called Out Bank (HOBBIES, October, 1955). Time will tell if other examples of this same type Bull and Bear Bank turn up, and there is always the possibility that some form of proof will be found to definitely establish the fact that both banks were sold commercially.

To date there is no proof that either the Bull and Bear or Called Out were ever produced in quantities or sold in stores. This has no effect on their desirability, however, nor the fact that there is no question as to the authenticity of either bank.

Neither bank comes in the category of only having reached the pattern stage which, of course, would automatically disqualify them in reaching the level of an authentically produced original item in a collection of mechanical banks.

 

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