Teddy and the Bear Bank
A mechanical bank that has the unique distinction of being the only one to represent a former President of the United States is our choice as No. 147 in the numerical classification. Theodore Roosevelt, popularly known as Teddy, was an adventurer of the first order and a flamboyant controversial figure in his time. It is quite appropriate that an animated toy savings device, Teddy And The Bear, was made in representation of his hunting abilities. And, of course, the use of a bear on the bank at the time fit completely with the popular toy Teddy Bear which was practically a must for children during its period of wide popularity. The bank, in addition to its unique representation of a President, has a number of other very desirable features. For example, it is a surprise type bank, the bear does not show until the bank is operated. It was designed by Bailey and is an outstanding example of his clever touch for designing mechanical banks. It is a very attractive, well made item and must be considered to be one of the most desirable of the mechanicals.
Teddy And The Bear was patented by Charles A. Bailey of Cromwell, Conn., February 19, 1907, and assigned by him to the National Novelty Corporation of Westfield, N.Y., a corporation of New Jersey. The J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn., were the manufacturers of the bank. The patent papers in the case of this bank have a degree of interest. There are a total of six drawings that accompany the text, and the bank as produced by Stevens is practically identical to these drawings. However, there is one point of complete difference operation-wise between the text and the way the bank was made by Stevens. Following are two quotes from the text:
"A further object of the invention is to provide a bank in which two or more movable figures are so arranged as to be operated in successive order, or only the first may be set into motion as desired."
"If the operator wishes to expose the head of the bear the trigger (operating lever), after releasing the sear (firing gun mechanism) is further depressed allowing a spring to elevate the head of the bear."
This means that Baileys original intent was that the gun shot the coin into the bank first and then second the bears head protruded from the tree stump. The bank operates exactly opposite to this. The bears head comes up first, then the gun fires. As a matter of fact, if one wishes to do so the bank can be operated so that only the bears head comes out of the stump.
The bank shown is in fine original condition and colors of parts are as follows: The base is green with bronze highlighting and a brown stone-like representation thereon. The lettering of the name is in silver. The tree stump is dark brown streaked with gold, and the coin slot area, as well as two other sections, are in yellow. The top movable cover of the stump is leaf-like in green and silver. The bears head is a reddish brown with a red mouth and nostrils and white teeth and eyes. Teddy wears black shoes with green puttees having gold buttons. His breeches, jacket and hat are tan and his shirt is blue. The gun is silver with a brown stock. He has flesh color hands and face with red lower lip, brown mustache and gold glasses. All this adds up to an attractive, colorful bank.
The bank is pictured after the action has taken place. To operate Teddy And The Bear from the position shown, the bears head is pushed down into the stump and the cover placed thereon. The piece along the top of the gun barrel that shoots the coin into the bank is pushed back along the barrel until it snaps into position. At the same time the head lowers as though taking aim. A coin is then placed on the gun barrel. The lever located between Teddys legs is pressed forward all the way. When done in this fashion all parts work together. The coin is shot forward into the stump and Teddy snaps his head back as though looking at the bear whose head springs from the top of the tree trunk. If one desires noise to accompany the action, there is a provided section in the gun for exploding caps.
In closing it bears mention, as the writer has stated before, that some of the best and most interesting mechanical banks are those that are considered by collectors to be more or less common. Teddy And The Bear is an excellent example of this type of bank. It was a fine salable item to begin with and made over a period of years. Thus quantities were produced and logically numbers survived. In the accepted terminology of "common," the bank is not that readily available an item but specimens turn up now and then and new or less advanced collectors of today still have a good chance of finding a reasonably good specimen.