A concern that manufactured a rather extensive line of mechanical banks has not received much recognition to date in the monthly series articles. This manufacturer is the H.L. Judd Company of Wallingford, Conn., and there is a very definite reason we have not heard much about them. While they made many mechanical banks, the Judd Company line consisted for the most part of those which were rather small, simple in action and movement, and were generally not of the type that would enter the picture in the classification articles until this time.
Above and beyond this, there is another factor that has to do with some of the Judd banks. Due to the fact that for the most part they were simple in their make-up, they lent themselves to being a somewhat easy target for being recast. This was done some 20 to 25 years ago by an individual in New Jersey. This person saw fit to recast a number of the Judd banks, such as the Gem, Boy And Bull Dog, and the Bucking Mule, among others. This is one of those unfortunate circumstances. However, the banks he reproduced are still recognized as such today by their pebbly surface, inferior castings and finish. The fact that these recasts were sold in some quantities years ago left the impression at the time that original Judd banks were not particularly rare, and as a matter of fact rather common. This impression, in some cases, has continued on until the present time. Actually most of the Judd banks are rather difficult to find as original specimens. The most popular of their banks were the Gem and Dog On Turntable, and these two banks were made over a period of years and widely sold. Thus today either one of these is not too difficult to find in an original specimen. This is not the case, however, with some of the other Judd banks, and in particular the Bucking Mule, one of their best little mechanicals. It is a small, very attractive bank with simple but clever action, and is our choice as No. 111 in the numerical classification.
The bank shown is a fine original in excellent condition and was obtained by the writer a few years ago when the collection of the late Dr. Arthur E. Corby was sold. Just where Dr. Corby obtained the bank is unknown to the writer, but like a number of the banks that were in his collection, it is in an unusually good state of preservation with some paint wear and chipping on the figure of the colored boy astride the mule.
Another feature of Judd banks generally is the fine detailed casting and ornate design work that went into their make-up. This is well borne out by the Bucking Mule, and certain features of the base detail can be seen in the pictured specimen. A handsome spiral column is at each of the four corners and a four-leaf clover type design is in each end plate of the base. The two side plates are made with symmetrically designed open work. The top of the rectangular base has attractive lined detail and ornamentation inscribed thereon.
As previously mentioned, most of the Judd banks were quite small and the Bucking Mule is typical of this fact since it is only somewhat over 4 inches long. Also it is well to point out that in keeping with their small size most of the Judd banks were made to employ use of pennies, nickels and dimes. No larger coins can be used in the Bucking Mule, as is the case with most of their other mechanicals. Judd did make at least one large size mechanical bank, and this is known as the Mosque Bank. It is a rather sizeable ornate building, and again in keeping with this size, the larger type coins can be used in its operation.
The Bucking Mule is painted rather simply as are all the banks made by Judd. The entire base and mule are done in a japanned type finish in black. The Negro astride the mule has red trousers and a yellow shirt, and thats it.
To operate the bank a coin is placed in the provided slot in front of the mule as shown in the picture. It is held in place there by means of a spring arrangement inside the bank. The mule is then pulled back into position where it snaps into place for operation. When the tail of the mule is given a slight lift he shoots forward as though bucking and stops suddenly at the proper point. This causes the figure of the Negro to be thrown forward and over the mule, and in so doing his head hits the coin and knocks it into the base receptacle. The Negros feet are fastened or pinned to the mule in such a fashion that he pivots on and off the mules back. After the coin has been deposited in the bank the figure is moved manually onto the mules back and can again be reset from there for further action.
The Bucking Mule has no dates or patent information on it whatsoever and apparently the Judd Company did not patent their banks, with possibly an exception or two. One is the Gem, which merely has the inscription Patd. on one side of the top roof decoration. So it is rather difficult to place any one of their banks in a more or less exact period. An old Judd catalog is helpful, however, in placing the Bucking Mule, along with a number of their other mechanicals, in the period of the 1880s. Most likely, to pin it down a little closer, the Bucking Mule was first made in the 1884 to 1888 period.
In closing it is well to stress that the Judd line of mechanical banks consisted of some nice desirable little items, and one of their best is the Bucking Mule. None of their banks were spectacular or highly colorful, but they do have an individual appearance that sets them apart from other banks in a more or less distinctive fashion. They are well made and detailed, and in most cases hard to find in original specimens.