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Boys Stealing Watermelons Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - September, 1965

65-09.JPG (25300 bytes)

Mechanical banks that have to do with or represent farm scenes and country life are particular favorites among many of the collectors of the animated toy savings devices. This nostalgic subject matter is well represented by a limited number of the mechanicals, and while there are not too many, there are enough to form an interesting, desirable group. Those we have covered so far in article form are Milking Cow (HOBBIES, August, 1953), Uncle Remus (HOBBIES, October, 1953), Pump & Bucket (HOBBIES, April, 1962), Hen & Chick (HOBBIES, June, 1962), Boy Robbing Bird’s Nest (HOBBIES, January, 1963), Weeden Plantation Savings Bank (HOBBIES, August, 1963), and Bad Accident (HOBBIES, May, 1965). Others as yet not covered in article form are Mule Entering Barn, I Always Did ’Spise A Mule, and our choice as No. 134 in the numerical classification, the Boys Stealing Watermelons. This bank most certainly well depicts a country type scene whose action theme was not an uncommon occurrence in years gone by. Under certain tempting circumstances the compulsive thought of some nice ripe watermelon was just too much to bear for many country boys, and any degree of controlled judgement simply went down the drain. The bank accurately represents a circumstance of this kind.

There is not too much known in any factual area as to the background of the Boys Stealing Watermelons. To the best of the writer’s knowledge, the designer of the bank is not known and so far no patent papers have turned up that would apply to this particular bank. Then too old catalog information is sadly lacking. Several features plus certain characteristics of the bank are helpful, however, in forming a fairly accurate judgment as to who made it. For one thing the number 133 which appears on the back plate of the bank is significant. In the same fashion the number 136 is on the Uncle Remus Bank and number 134 on the Zoo Bank (HOBBIES, November, 1963). In addition, all three banks bear striking similarities in their makeup, paint, and so on. Considering all factors the Boys Stealing Watermelons was most likely made by either of two concerns, Kyser & Rex of Phila., Pa., or the Mechanical Novelty Works of New Britain, Conn. The bank was probably produced by one of these companies in the 1885 to 1895 period.

The bank shown is in the fine collection of Leon Perelman of Merion, Pa. He obtained it a few years ago from an Eastern antique dealer. It is in good original condition and painted as follows: The simulated stonework base is white with black highlighting. Above this is a slanted area to represent ground and this is dark brown. The watermelon vine and watermelons are green. Two of the watermelons, the one the boy is reaching for and the one held by the boy on the fence, have white lines thereon. The dog house is tan with a red roof and the dog is black and silver with red mouth and nose. The boy in the prone position has a blue cap, red shirt, and yellow knee britches or knickers. The boy climbing the white fence has a yellow cap, blue shirt, and red knee britches or knickers. The green tree over the dog house is highlighted with yellow and red. A gold operating lever, located on the back of the dog house, completes the coloring of the bank.

To operate the bank a coin is first inserted in the provided slot in the roof of the dog house where it is held in place about halfway into the slot. The operating lever is then depressed. This causes the boy in the prone position to move his right arm down toward the watermelon. At the same time the dog moves out of the dog house toward the boy and the coin is automatically deposited in the bank. On releasing the lever the moving parts return to their normal positions ready for anther coin.

The Boys Stealing Watermelons, in addition to being a member of the group of country life type banks, is also representative of another small select group of object lesson banks. Some banks in this group taught a child what to do, but others, such as the Boy Robbing Bird’s Nest and Uncle Remus, are constructive in demonstrating what not to do. As example, the tree branch falls with the boy thereon when he is in the act of stealing the bird eggs. The Boys Stealing Watermelons has the same type what not to do object lesson, with the watch dog getting after the boys when in the act of stealing the watermelons. It’s a nice interesting bank and makes an attractive addition to a collection of the animated toy savings devices.


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