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Clown on Globe Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - February, 1965

65-02.JPG (19315 bytes)A circus type mechanical bank with very lively action is our choice as No. 127 in the numerical classification. This is the Clown On Globe Bank and rather usual, than unusual is the fact that its original name, Funny Clown Bank, was changed to one which is more completely indicative of the bank itself. This is not exceptional as a number of the original names of mechanical banks have been changed to one that is more descriptive. Understand this is in respect to mechanicals such as the Clown On Globe which have no name inscribed on the banks themselves. Being a member of the circus group is a very desirable feature, and this plus other factors of the Clown On Globe, such as its outstanding action and very attractive appearance, make it a must item to have in a collection of the animated toy savings devices.

At this point it may be well to mention that if the writer seems to be enthused about the bank under discussion, he is. As a matter of fact, for some months past and some months to come we are in a period, so far as these articles are concerned, where some of the finest of all the mechanical banks have been and will be covered. Their popularity during their respective periods of manufacture bear this out. And the fact that today they are more available than many of the rare banks is beside the point. We must not lose perspective and appreciation for each bank for what it is and what it represents. This so often happens to collectors as they become more advanced, not only to those who collect mechanical banks, but to collectors of other items as well.

The Clown On Globe is covered by the patent papers of an outstanding mechanical bank, The Girl Skipping Rope (HOBBIES, April, 1952). At first thought this would not seem feasible as there is no resemblance between the two banks whatsoever. However, the patent coverage has to do with the operating mechanism, and here the two banks share similarities. A spinning weighted wheel mounted horizontally inside causes the continuing action of the Girl Skipping Rope, whereas the spinning globe mounted vertically causes the sustained action of the Clown On Globe. So in each case the operation of the mechanism is similar, based on the same principle, and covered by the same patent. The patent was issued to James H. Bowen of Philadelphia, Pa., May 20, 1890, under No. 428,450. This patent number is cast on the base plate of the Clown On Globe. It, like the Girl Skipping Rope, was made by the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. Original Stevens catalogs of the period show both banks and designate the Clown On Globe by its original name, Funny Clown Bank. Incidentally, The Girl Skipping Rope was originally called The Jumping Rope Bank in the same catalog.

The bank pictured is from the Perelman Antique Toy Museum and was obtained by Leon Perelman in his area a few years ago through the services of an antique dealer. It is in original condition and with what may be described as good paint. That is to say there is some degree of wear showing on the painted surfaces. This is usual in the case of this bank due to the fact the figure was handled often in each winding of the bank for action, particularly around the face. It is difficult to find a specimen with the original paint in fine condition. Colors are as follows: The Clown has a white face with red mouth and other markings in red. His eyes are well defined with a lighter white, blue iris, black pupils and black lining of the eyebrows and lashes. His peaked hat is gray with red edging. He has a bright red jacket with a yellow accordion-pleated collar. The buttons on his jacket are gold. He has white hands and the ornamental part between them is maroon with gold outlining. Olive color shoes, white ribbed stockings with a red band at the top, and maroon knickers or knee britches complete his outfit. The globe is blue with a wide band in gold around it. The base is in two shades of tan, the top part being lighter. Scrollwork and bead type decoration on the base is in brown. The operating lever is gold. From the description of the various colors used one can readily judge that this is a very colorful bank and took considerable time to decorate. It is, as a matter of fact, one of the most colorful of all the mechanical banks.

To operate the bank please first note the picture and in particular the operating lever and coin slot. These two parts are respectively on the right and left hand side of the top of the base as shown. The lever is pushed upward and snaps into position. This causes a part to partially cover the coin slot from the inside. The clown is then revolved or turned with the globe clockwise. The lever acts as a ratchet as well and clicks into place as the clown is revolved. He can be turned approximately one revolution. A coin is then placed in the provided slot where it rests in position. Pushing the lever down causes the clown to spin rapidly counter-clockwise and the coin is deposited automatically. After this action the bank is reset as described for a somewhat different performance. When set this time, a lever in back of the globe is pressed causing the clown to spring legs up and head down so that he stands on his head. He then, in this position, will spin around with the globe when the operating lever is pressed.

In closing it bears mention that the Clown On Globe is a bank that could be said to have almost haunted the writer for some years. In the earlier period of collecting mechanical banks many individuals took the Clown On Globe to be the Circus Bank (HOBBIES, October, 1952). Thus over the years numerous letters offered the writer a Circus Bank and in all cases it would turn out to be the Clown On Globe.


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