Monkey With Tray and The Cross Legged Minstrel
Two mechanical banks made of tin and of foreign manufacture are our choices as Nos. 136 and 137 in the numerical classification. The Monkey With Tray is No. 136 and the Cross Legged Minstrel No. 137. They are both rather interesting banks, nicely made, good action, and quite colorful. Everything about the two banks indicates they were made in Germany, and most likely in the early 1900s. Neither bank carries any of the German markings or terminology that would indicate they were covered by what we call a patent, so it is very doubtful that we will ever know too much about the background of either one. Even if the German designation D.R.G.M. (which is similar to out patent or copyright) did appear on either bank, this would not be helpful other than indicating the bank was a German protected product. The setup of protected items in Germany was entirely different than our Patent Office, and for detailed information on this please refer to the article on the Snake And Frog In Pond Bank, HOBBIES, August, 1961.
The Monkey With Tray pictured is in very nice condition with good original coloring. Around the sides of the box type base appear monkeys in various forms of play. Two are fussing over apples. The monkey on the front is beating a drum. Two on the other side show one monkey knocking in the top hat worn by the other monkey. A monkey on the back is pulling the tail of the monkey who is crushing in the top hat. Five of the six monkeys are dressed in bright clothing of red, green, white and yellow. They all appear on a blue background. The top of the box-like base is red. The large monkey on top of the base is naturally done in shadings of brown and black, giving him a realistic appearance. The inside of his mouth is red and he has a gold collar around his neck.
To operate the Monkey With Tray, a coin is first placed on the tray as shown. The tail of the seated monkey is then pressed down. This causes his arms to raise and lift the tray to his mouth. As the arms rise, the top half of the monkeys head tilts back opening his mouth. A small lever on the tray strikes the underjaw or chin of the monkey, and this allows the coin to slide from the tray into his mouth. Releasing the lever returns all parts to the positions as shown in the picture.
The Cross Legged Minstrel shown is also in fine original condition with bright attractive colors. A red band is around the oval base. Above this appears green grass, red flowers, and green vines trailing up a brown tree trunk. The minstrel leans back against this trunk. He has brown shoes, blue and white striped trousers, bright red frock coat, yellow vest, white shirt, green tie, and a yellow flower in his lapel. In his right hand he holds a yellow top hat with black band.
To operate the Cross Legged Minstrel a coin is placed, as shown, in the slot in his chest where it stays in position. A lever on the right side of the bank is then pressed down. The coin automatically enters the bank and the minstrel moves his right arm forward and down taking off his hat. His right hand also moves forward so his hat is caused to tilt realistically. He does a very neat job of tipping his hat in thanks for the coin. Releasing the lever returns all parts to their respective positions as shown in the picture.
The Monkey With Tray and Cross Legged Minstrel are clever mechanical banks with good action and make interesting additions to a collection of animated toy savings devices. Some collectors do not seem to favor tin mechanical banks as compared to those made of cast iron. This basically, in the writers opinion, is a mistake as the tin mechanicals offer a fine group of good action banks, and there is one thing for sure, it is most unlikely they will ever be reproduced due to the costs and difficulties involved.