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Mammy and Child Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - September, 1964

64-09.JPG (10079 bytes)A mechanical bank with two coin slots that receive coins in a different fashion, simultaneously, or individually, is our choice as No. 122 in the numerical classification of mechanical banks. The Mammy & Child is the bank with this unusual feature and it is a very attractive well made item with excellent realistic action. Here again is another bank that is among the writer’s favorites. The theme and idea of the action is quite original, with the coin in one case representing either food or medicine being given to the baby. In addition to the unique feature of the two coin slots the subject matter of the bank is also unique among the mechanicals.

The Mammy & Child was patented October 21, 1884 by Alfred C. Rex of Philadelphia, Pa., and manufactured by Alfred C. Rex & Company. The patent papers and accompanying drawing are of noteworthy interest. The two drawings, for example, are practically identical to the bank as produced except for one unusual feature. The bank as manufactured is in complete reverse to the original patent sketches. As example, in the drawings the Mammy holds the child’s head in her right hand and the spoon in her left hand. The operating lever is on the left side instead of the right, and so on. This is one of the only cases the writer knows of whereby a mechanical bank was made with parts transposed to the positions as shown on the original patent drawings. The patent was issued to Rex as a "Toy Money-Box," and is referred to in the papers in several places as a "Mechanical Toy Money-Box." Attention is called to the fact that the child’s large wide mouth serves as one of the coin slots and that this is "capable of receiving a five cent piece." Then it is pointed out that the slot in the apron pocket can be used for larger size coins and that the mechanism operates in either case. In other words, no coins can enter the bank through the apron pocket slot without working the operating lever which, of course, causes all parts to function, including the inside mechanism of the pocket slot. This allows the coin to drop in automatically. The patent papers go on to state that the pocket slot is of "sufficient width to take in a quarter of a dollar." Actually it will accommodate a half dollar as shown in the picture. Apparently this change was made in the production bank as an improvement since the mouth of the baby will take no coins larger than the five cent piece as stated in the patent. Thus quarters as well as half dollars work nicely in the pocket section.

The bank shown is in unusually fine all original condition and formerly resided in the collection of the late Dr. Arthur E. Corby. The spoon is complete and all original. This is quite unusual as most specimens of this bank turn up with the spoon completely gone or at best with the handle part there but the bowl missing. Apparently children were prone to play with the spoon part, and since this is not cast iron but rather a piece of formed sheet metal it was subject to being bent and thus eventually breaking off. The spoon was cast into the right hand part in such fashion that the thumb and index finger meet on the top surface of the handle and thus actually give the appearance that the spoon is being held and gripped by the thumb and fingers. This is a well made part but it could not stand any great degree of rough treatment, and it is quite exceptional to possess one of these banks with the complete spoon intact.

Along with the fact of the pictured bank being all complete and original is the further point of the paint being in extremely fine condition. It is painted in bright attractive colors. The face and hands of the Negro Mammy are a dark brown, she has white eyes with black pupils, a red mouth and white teeth. The red scarf on her head and the one around her neck have yellow polka dots thereon. She wears a dark blue dress with black shoes. The cuffs of the sleeves of her dress are yellow with red polka dots. Her apron is white with red trim at the top, bottom, sides and along the top pocket edge. The baby rests on a large red pillow with yellow polka dots. The baby’s face, hands, feet and legs are a lighter brown than the Mammy’s. She has white eyes with black pupils and red lips. Her dress is yellow with white trim at the bottom. The hood covering the baby’s head is white. The Negro Mammy is sitting on a red seat and both the operating lever and the spoon are gold.

To operate the bank a coin is placed on the spoon as shown in the picture. Another larger coin can be placed in the pocket as also shown in the picture. The operating lever (not shown in the picture) is then pressed downward. This is done more or less slowly and carefully, unlike most of the banks, so that the coin on the spoon is caused to slide properly into the mouth of the baby. When the lever is depressed the Mammy lowers her head as though watching what she is doing. At the same time she turns her right hand lowering the spoon to the open mouth of the baby so that the tip of the spoon touches the lower lip of the baby. The coin slides into the baby’s mouth and on into the bank. In conjunction with this action the legs of the baby rise upward and the coin in the apron pocket drops automatically inside of the bank. Occasionally it is necessary to maneuver the lever somewhat to cause the coin to slide properly from the spoon. Upon releasing the lever all parts return automatically to the positions shown in the picture. Coins are removed from the bank by means of a key lock coin trap in the bottom or underside.

In closing it bears re-mention that the Mammy & Child is a most attractive bank with unusually clever and realistic action. It is a good challenge to find one completely original including the spoon. When sold commercially in the 1880’s and after, catalogs of the period listed the bank as the "Baby Mine." In later years as a collector’s item the present name was used to better identify it.

 

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