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Snake and Frog in Pond Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - August, 1961

61-08.JPG (15628 bytes)

The Snake & Frog In Pond, a most unusual tin mechanical bank, is our choice as No. 97 in the numerical classification of mechanical banks. It is unique in that it is the only bank known to utilize the representation of a snake in its action.

A snake striking a frog would most certainly seem an unlikely subject matter for a child’s savings bank. The fact that such a bank was made, however, offers further proof of the extremes to which designers of mechanical banks went to in coming up with something different in the way of action and subject matter.

The vast majority of people obviously do not like snakes. Transversely, however, most people are definitely fascinated by them and drawn to them in spite of being repelled.

Within this realm of feeling, lurking in the subconscious of the individual, lies the particular interest in the Snake & Frog In Pond. Specifically, of course, with respect to a collector of mechanical banks. This is in addition to the collector’s usual desire of ownership and interest in any specimen of a mechanical bank.

The Snake & Frog In Pond shown is owned by John D. Meyer, one of the pioneer collectors of mechanical banks. It was formerly in the collection of the late James C. Jones, who was also one of the early collectors. Just where Mr. Jones obtained the bank is unknown to the writer, however, it is known that the bank is of foreign manufacture.

The wording "Made In Germany" is printed on the end of the bank where the frog is located. The initials "D.R.G.M." appear above this statement. This lettering has three interpretations or meanings.

One, Deutsches Reichs Germein Musterschutz – Deutsches means German, Reichs means Empire, and in the last word "Muster" means registered, and "schutz" stands for design, trademark, copyright, or patent.

Second interpretation or meaning is Deutsches Reichs Geschutzes Muster – this means German State Protected Material.

The third and last meaning is Deutsches Reichs Gebrauchsmuster – this means a German Registered Design that is good for a short time only.

Just which of these three meanings apply to the Snake & Frog In Pond is unknown, however, this is not necessarily important. What is important is the fact that the bank was a protected item, the same as a patented bank in our country.

Other information on the bank is sadly lacking. The actual manufacturer or designer is unknown. So is the period or time in which it was made. The writer has never seen any old catalogs or other material that pictured or described the bank, which would be helpful in dating it. In any event, it is the writer’s opinion that it was produced after 1900, and most likely dates in the 1910 to 1920 period.

The bank is a very attractive item with bright colors and fine details. The base represents a predominantly light green woodland scene. The large frog is in a lake and the indentation of the lake on top of the base goes to within an inch of the snake. The snake is among some brown and yellow rocks, green grass, and ferns.

The lake is blue streaked with white, and in it are some raised lily pads in green and white. A green frog is swimming in the water and a green and yellow salamander is crawling towards the snake.

A snail is crawling on the edge of the lake and surrounding the lake are many types of flowers in red, yellow, white, and blue. The lake is also represented along each side of the bank. Here again are highly colored flowers, snails, bees, frogs, and a lizard.

The body of the snake is a mottled iridescent blue and gold. The top of his head is an iridescent blue with beady gold eyes. The underside of his head and mouth is yellow. The large frog on the end of the bank is a dark green and black with a yellow underside. All this detail and color add up to a very attractive bank.

To operate the bank a coin is placed in the snake’s mouth (the lower jaw is movable). The operating lever is located under the snake, and when this is depressed the snake darts forward realistically and rapidly, and at the same time the frog opens his mouth. The snake stops at a given point and the coin flies from his mouth into the open mouth of the frog. The action is fast and accurate. The bank is pictured just after the coin has gone into the frog’s mouth.

It occurs to the writer that sooner or later someone will undoubtedly refer to this bank as the Snake In The Grass Bank. This brings to mind an unforgettable occurrence years ago in the early stages of his collecting. He received word from an antique dealer that she had a Snake Fighting A Chicken Bank.

After much anticipation and driving he arrived at the destination to see this great possible rarity. Well, believe it or not, it was the Eagle & Eaglettes Bank. The party thought the tree branch lever was a snake and the eagle a chicken! This probably sounds a little fantastic, but it’s absolutely true and only one of many similar incidents.

Prior to obtaining his fine mint specimen of the Circus Bank (HOBBIES, October 1952) the writer was offered a forgotten number of Circus Banks, and in all cases they turned out to be the Clown On The Globe. This, of course, is somewhat understandable, but nonetheless disappointing at the time.

In conclusion the Snake & Frog In Pond Bank most likely never reached any particular degree of popularity with children, and in all probability a limited number were made and sold. This is further borne out by the fact that only two, possibly three, of these banks are in private collections to date. It’s a very decorative, scarce little bank and a desirable item to add to a collection.


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