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Mickey Mouse Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - December, 1969

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Mickey is a mouse that has become a legend in his own time and as a collector’s item he is really turned on. As example, where can one go today and find someone who does not know that original Mickey Mouse watches and clocks are valuable and avidly sought by quite a number of collectors.

Considerable impetus was given to collecting Mickey Mouse items by an article appearing in Life Magazine, October 25, 1968, in celebration of Mickey’s 40th birthday. The date of September 19, 1928 is the accepted date of his cartoon beginning or birth since on this date the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie, opened at the Colony Theater in New York City. Mickey caught the public’s fancy immediately and his popularity grew by leaps and bounds. It was not too long until various products and items appeared on the market all bearing the Mickey Mouse likeness, and in the case of toys in the form of Mickey. In 1933 Ingersoll brought out their famous to be line of Mickey Mouse watches and clocks and in a short time production reached more than 5000 pieces a day. There were four items originally produced, a pocket watch and fob, a wristwatch, an electric clock, and a spring wound clock. All four were animated and these have become the sought for collector’s items of today.

The article in Life featured various Mickey Mouse watches and clocks in the fine collection of Bob Lesser and a variety of Mickey Mouse toys belonging to Mel Birnkrant and Ernest Trova.

And now we come to the point of what we consider to be a major breakthrough in Mickey Mouse collectibles, the recent discovery of an early Mickey Mouse mechanical bank. This is a bank the writer never knew existed, and to the best of his knowledge is a new find and the only one known to date. At present we are classifying Mickey as No. 177 in the numerical classification.

The Mickey Mouse mechanical pictured was made in Germany circa 1928 to 1934. It was found recently in England and the writer obtained it from a source there. Mickey as depicted on both front and back of the bank, Figures 1 and 3, is in his earliest form with a white face, black oval eyes with wedge shape hole, high black eyebrows, long tail, short red pants, and so on. This original form of Mickey underwent various changes over the years. His skin was changed to a pink color, his eyes rounded and pupils added. His tail was shortened and pants made longer, his eyebrows eliminated, and so on.

Figure 1 shows Mickey before or after the operation of the bank. In Figure 2 he is ready to receive the coin, and Figure 3 shows the back of the bank. As can be judged by these photos, the bank is in excellent original condition. Colors are as follows: Mickey is black with white face, red tongue, and yellow gloves. His shoes are yellow with very fine red dots. The concertina is red, green, white, and the same red dotted yellow as on his shoes. The curved top of the bank is red. Mickey is doing a dance, most likely a jig, on a green section with the rest of the background in yellow. The tapered base is black. The sides of the bank are red with green and black checkered effect on each edge. The back of the bank, Figure 3, shows Mickey taking your picture. His colors are the same as those described on the front. The camera is black, white, the red dotted yellow, and the bulb held in Mickey’s left hand is red. He stands on a red top box with yellow front. The entire background is green. "SMILE PLEASE!" appears at the top and on the front of the box on which Mickey stands is the following:

If you only pull my ear
You will see my tongue appear
Place a coin upon my tongue
Save your money while you’re young

The colors are very bright as described. It all adds up to a most attractive colorful bank.

To operate the bank his right ear is pushed down causing his tongue to protrude and his eyes to rise as shown in Figure 2. A coin is then placed on his tongue and the ear pushed up causing the parts to return to position as shown in Figure 1. The coin drops inside the bank and may be removed by means of a locking coin trap in the underbase.

All in all the Mickey Mouse Bank is a delightful item with double appeal to mechanical bank collectors and to those who have an interest in Mickey Mouse items, an ever increasing group.


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