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Jumbo Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - January, 1962

62-01.JPG (21510 bytes)

Elephants are well represented by a number of the mechanical banks and comprise a very interesting group of these intriguing animated toy savings devices. This group is not only desirable to the collector of mechanical banks, but also to the many individuals who collect elephant items as a hobby. As we reach No. 100 in the numerical classification of mechanical banks our choice is one that well represents the elephant category. This is the Jumbo Bank, and it is a dual purpose cast iron toy since it not only served as a savings bank, but could also be played with as a pull toy.

The Jumbo Bank is very much like the Light Of Asia (HOBBIES, October, 1956) and unquestionably both banks were made by the same concern. This manufacturer is still an unknown factor as, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, no patent papers, old catalogs, or anything else have turned up which would furnish information of this kind. There are no dates or markings of any type on the bank itself and certain characteristics are not indicative of any one manufacturer in particular. There are possibilities it was made by the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn., or Kyser & Rex of Philadelphia, Pa., but nothing conclusively indicates either one, and some other company may well have made the bank.

The definite period in which it was made is very well established under the circumstances of the writer obtaining his specimen of the Jumbo. The history of this particular bank is rather sad, however, it definitely dates the bank and also accounts for its excellent "like new" condition.

The bank pictured was obtained by the writer from Mrs. J.G. Harrington of Paris, Ill., a number of years ago. It was originally purchased by her uncle, C.W. Moore, in Georgetown, Vermillion County, Ill., March 12, 1883. He had bought it as a gift for his little boy’s second birthday, but his son died on March 14, 1883 without ever seeing the bank. It was kept by the Moore family and never used or played with over the years. Subsequently the parents passed on and no close relatives remained and the bank came into the possession of Mrs. Harrington. It is rather exceptional for the writer to have first-hand information of this kind surrounding a mechanical bank’s history and it does seem unfortunate that the circumstances would be of such touching nature.

The bank, of course, is in new original condition and the paint is practically mint. The Elephant is a dark brown and he has a red blanket on his back with the name "Jumbo" in gold. His mouth is red and he had white eyes with black pupils. The base and wheels are green with gold outlining and highlighting.

The operation of the bank is quite simple. A coin pushed into the provided slot in the elephant’s back causes his head to nod up and down. The deposited coins remain inside the elephant and it is necessary to remove the screw that holds the elephant together in order to take the coins from the bank.

As stated in the article on the Light Of Asia, it was the writer’s opinion that the Jumbo Bank may have been an altered example of the Light Of Asia made to coincide with P.T. Barnum and his acquiring the famous elephant "Jumbo" from the London Zoological Gardens in 1882. This would now seem definitely borne out by the fact that the Jumbo Bank is in the period of 1883 as proved by the writer’s specimen of the bank. It is logically quite certain that it had to do with this event irrespective of its being an altered model of the Light Of Asia.

A word of caution is in order here. Both the Light Of Asia and Jumbo should have the fine heart type of wheels as shown in the picture. Due to the fact that a photo of a specimen of this bank, with small automobile type wheels, received some degree of circulation, the false impression was given that these wheels were proper. This is not so, and as a matter of fact the writer knows of several cases where these wrong type wheels have been substituted for the fine original ones due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the individuals involved. In addition to this, some Jumbo Banks have been sold as completely original with just the Elephant and no base or platform and wheels. The bank was obviously not made in this fashion since all specimens which consist of the Elephant only show signs where the lugs have been ground off the legs. These lugs fastened the animal to the wheeled base. The bank is only complete and original when it is as the one shown in the picture. This also applies to the Light Of Asia.

To sum up, the Jumbo is a dandy little bank to have in a collection and it is a hard item to find in complete original condition.


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