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Jonah and the Whale Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - February, 1964

64-02.JPG (17399 bytes)

A mechanical bank with a biblical background is our choice as No. 116 in the numerical classification. This is the Jonah And The Whale, and it is a large, well designed, impressive bank with good action. The name, as shown in the picture, is cast in large letters along both side plates. Since there are two known different types of the Jonah And The Whale, it is well to point out that only one type has the name on the bank itself. The other type Jonah And The Whale is very rare and is No. 20 in the numerical classification (HOBBIES, May, 1953). There has always existed some degree of confusion since both banks have the same theme, and while they look nothing alike appearance-wise, the easiest way to remember to distinguish one from the other is by the large lettered name on the one now under discussion. No name whatsoever appears on the rare type. This plus the fact that in the one pictured Jonah is thrown towards the whale’s mouth, and in the case of the rare one he comes out of the whale’s mouth. There are many other differences and checking the photo in the May 1953 article with the one herewith will bear all this out. Actually the only confusing similarity between the two banks is in sharing the same subject matter and name.

The Jonah And Whale pictured was patented July 15, 1890 by Peter Adams of Buffalo, N.Y., assignor to Charles G. Shepard and Walter J. Shepard, also of Buffalo. The patent is a design patent and covered a design for a toy savings bank. The diagram or sketch accompanying the text of the patent is practically identical to the actual manufactured item. The manufacturer of the bank was the Shepard Hardware Company of Buffalo. It bears mention at this point that not many mechanical banks, as such, were covered by a design patent alone. Most of the mechanical banks that were covered by a patent are on the basis of a regular patent which also protected certain features of the operating mechanism.

The bank shown is from the fine collection of Leon Perelman of Merion, Pa. It is in original condition with good paint and the colors are as follows: The side and end plates of the base are red with yellow corners, and the letters of the name are done in gold. The edges of the bottom plate and top part of the bank are striped in yellow and black. The water and waves are realistically done in light bluish-green with white highlighting. The whale is a dark green-black color with a red mouth and white teeth. The boat is an off shade of yellow with stripes of gold, white, blue and red. The robes on the two figures are red and blue and they have white beards, flesh color faces and hands, and so on. All in all the Jonah And Whale is a very bright, attractively painted bank and gives a fine impressive appearance.

To operate the bank a coin is placed on the back of the figure of Jonah. The lever, which is recessed in the end plate under the rear of the boat, is then pressed. As the whale opens his mouth wide the figure holding Jonah moves forward in the boat toward the whale. The figure of Jonah tilts downward as though entering the whale’s mouth, but instead the coin is thrown from his back into the whale. Releasing the lever returns the figures in the boat to the position shown in the picture. The whale’s mouth closes and re-opens as though swallowing the coin. This action of the lower jaw continues for some time since it is balanced in a fashion to do so. Coins are removed by means of a key lock trap in the underside of the base.

In closing, a few words as to the story of Jonah are in order. Jonah was a minor prophet. To escape the Divine summons to preach repentance to Nineveh, Jonah embarked by boat from Joppa for Tarshish, but during a severe storm was, at his advice and by the issue of a lot with the sailors, thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. The Lord had prepared this fish to swallow up Jonah. After being thrown overboard and swallowed by the fish, the storm subsided. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. The Lord then spoke unto the fish and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

A further point of interest in closing is the fact that the bank under discussion represents the first part of Jonah’s ordeal, that is being cast to the whale. Then the other rare Jonah And Whale represents the end of his three days and nights ordeal by emerging from the whale. They make a fine pair of banks to have in a collection.


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