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Bad Accident Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - May, 1965

65-05.JPG (10454 bytes)

One of the most popular mechanical banks of the many designed by the great Charles A. Bailey is our choice as No. 130 in the numerical classification. This is the Bad Accident Bank and it is a fine action piece, well proportioned, clever subject matter, and to all appearances is simply a mechanical toy, rather than an animated toy savings device. As a matter of fact, like some of the other mechanical banks, and in particular a number designed by Bailey, there is no question that the Bad Accident, while a savings device, was also intended to be used without coins as a mechanical toy. A couple of other outstanding Bailey banks with this same feature are Shoot the Chute (HOBBIES, January, 1952) and Chief Big Moon (HOBBIES, March, 1965). For information on other mechanical banks that Charles A. Bailey designed, patented and in some cases manufactured, please refer to the special article, Bailey’s Banks (HOBBIES, February, 1963).

Like many of the mechanical banks patented and designed by Bailey, the Bad Accident was manufactured by the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. No patent dates or anything of this nature appear on the bank itself and no patent papers, design or otherwise, are known to exist. At least none have been found to date. However, we can ascertain the period in which it was made through the help of old Stevens catalogs. The Bad Accident appears for the first time in their catalog, circa 1891, and in a number of others after that date. In this catalog there is also pictured what Stevens called the Donkey Wheel Toy. This toy, a pull type, utilized the same donkey as that of the bank, and necessarily a wheel in this case is between the front legs of the donkey. The driver, seated in a cart of the type used on the bank, moved his right arm and hand, with a whip therein, up and down as though urging the animal on. The description of the toy in the catalog states: "Each rotation of the wheels causes the driver to strike the donkey with the whip." Of interest too is the fact that the Bad Accident as pictured in this catalog has the name right side up. The name "Bad Accident" on the actual bank appears on the base alongside the donkey and in the normal sense it is upside down. In other words, to read the name properly one must turn the bank around and view it from the back. Over the years the writer has seen only one specimen of this bank with the name in a readable position when looking at it from the front.

The bank pictured is in fine original condition, and colors of various parts are as follows: The base consists of a tan road with wheel tracks thereon, and on each side of the road is green foliage with white and yellow flowers, (a Bailey trademark). The name, Bad Accident, is in gold. The large cattail plant the Negro boy hides behind has green leaves and the tails are brown. The boy has blue trousers and a red shirt. The donkey is brown with black harness trimmed in some red and gold. The cart is yellow with red striping and a blue and tan top surface. The wheels are red with black markings on the spokes. The driver has black shoes, tan spats, and a tan hat with blue band. He wears red trousers, light blue jacket with dark blue collar, a white shirt, and a red and yellow tie. He holds a ripe piece of watermelon, in appropriate colors, between his hands.

The bank, to better illustrate the fine action, is shown in two photos—Figure 1 before the action, and Figure 2 after. As mentioned previously, the Bad Accident is not an obvious savings device and, as a matter of fact, unless one is familiar with it the place to put the coin is actually somewhat concealed. In any event, to operate the bank the coin is first placed under and between the shoes of the driver as in Figure 1. A two part lever beside the cattail plant is then pressed together with the thumb and index finger. Immediately the boy darts from behind the plant and turns facing the front. Simultaneously the donkey rears back on his hind legs (as though frightened by the boy) and in so doing causes the cart to tilt up and back in the fashion as shown in Figure 2. In turn the coin slides from between the shoes of the driver back into a provided slot in the cart and on inside same. When the lever is released the boy automatically returns to his hidden position behind the plant. To reset the rest of the bank for action, the donkey is pressed down onto the base where the projection on the hoof of his left front leg clicks into place and is held there. Then the cart is moved on down into position as in Figure 1 where it stays in place. Coins may be removed from the cart body by means of a conventional type round Stevens trap in the underside of the cart.

Needless to say, the Bad Accident is a somewhat delicate bank, more or less easily broken, and could not stand rough play or usage. More often than not, when a specimen is found, it isn’t in the perfect, unrepaired condition as the one pictured.


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