Bear Standing (Slot in Chest)
A simple action, rather attractive mechanical bank known as the Bear Standing (Slot In Chest) is our choice as No. 135 in the numerical classification. The original name of the bank is unknown to the best of the writers knowledge, and it may well have been made during the popular "Teddy Bear" period which, of course, was associated with President Theodore Roosevelt. The bank that really commemorates this period is Teddy And The Bear, and this bank will be dealt with in a near future article. In any event, regardless of the original name, the present name "Bear Standing (Slot In Chest)" was chosen some years ago out of necessity in describing the bank with short accuracy in order to avoid confusion with several other mechanical banks.
Unfortunately factual background information on the Bear Standing has as yet not been established. It is pretty well accepted though that it was made by the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn., since, for example, the round conventional type Stevens coin trap patented in 1875 was used on this bank. If we may digress for a moment at this point, we would like to mention a fact of some importance. Over a period of years the writer has received numerous letters with reference to various mechanical banks having been made in 1875 since this date showed on the coin trap. The patent date of February 2, 1875 only has reference to the round Stevens coin trap itself. This same trap with the same date was used on banks made by Stevens for many years on into the 1900s and as late as the early 1920s. So do not be misled by the date of 1875 it has nothing to do whatever with the period in which a mechanical bank was manufactured. As example, the Bear Standing under discussion has the 1875 round Stevens trap, but it is most unlikely that the bank is of this early period. No patent dates or markings of any kind appear on the bank and, therefore, it is not known who actually designed it. It has, however, for some years been attributed to Bailey, and this is certainly a possibility until we can prove otherwise.
Some collectors feel that the Bear Standing was made by the Kenton Hardware Co. This assumption is based on the fact that Kenton used the same type round trap on some of their still banks such as the Statue of Liberty and on their mechanical Mamma Katzenjammer (HOBBIES, December, 1958). Mamma Katzenjammer employs the use of the same type trap but the diameter is considerably larger than those normally used by Stevens. The same date "February 2, 1875," however, appears on this larger size trap, and Kenton was not making mechanical banks in that period. It is most likely that Kenton as a matter of convenience used the Stevens type trap years after the patent protection had expired.
The Bear Standing shown is a completely original specimen and in good condition for this particular bank. It is rather difficult to find an original since apparently not too many were made. A number of recasts, however, were produced approximately 20 years ago by a party in New Jersey. These are not difficult to distinguish as recasts, and the parts are held together by a screw instead of being riveted and permanently fastened together. The recasts are considerably heavier than the original pictured, parts do not fit together well, and much of the detail in the casting was lost in the recasting of the bank. Unfortunately the Bear Standing lent itself to being recast by its simplicity and the fact it was hard to find an original then, just as it is today. Fortunately, to repeat, the recasts are easily identified as such.
The original bank pictured has the body of the bear painted an overall light tan. He has brown eyes and nose, and a red mouth completes the coloring. The operation like Mamma Katzenjammer, is simple. A coin pushed into the slot, as shown in the picture, causes the mouth to open and it recloses as the coin falls inside the bank.
In the writers opinion the Bear Standing is a somewhat underrated bank and actually is considerably rarer than most collectors realize.