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Punch and Judy Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - July, 1971

71-07.JPG (17400 bytes)

A most attractive bank having great traditional subject matter with special appeal to children is our choice as No. 201 in the numerical classification. The bank is Punch And Judy and it accurately depicts this most well known of all puppet shows.

Puppetry as such would seem to have possible origins as far back as ancient Egypt, then possibly on into Fifth Century B.C. Greece. In any case, by the 17th Century puppets were everywhere and welcomed as an inexpensive form of theatre. The rise of Punch typifies the popularity of this form of entertainment. He started in Naples as Polcinella, a name derived from "Little Chicken." This name seemed to fit the strutting, squawking, and uncertain courage, as well as the lovable qualities, of the character. By 1650 he reached Paris, and by 1660 he appeared in London to be called Punchinello, or Punch. In 1742 there was an advertised performance by "Punch and Joan, his wife" in Philadelphia, Pa. About 1825 the name of Punch’s spouse became Judy. Then around the 1870’s numbers of Punch and Judy men came from England to the United States. These showmen used a portable booth and operated Punch on their right hand and Judy, as well as other characters, on their left hand. In the last quarter of the 19th Century Punch and Judy were familiar practically to every American.

The show embodied a domestic tragedy followed by a supernatural retribution, all of which was treated in a broadly farcical manner. Punch himself is represented as short and thick-set with an immense hump on his back, a wide mouth, long chin and hooked nose. His wife Judy is in some respects his counterpart. And to sum this up for now, there was also the dog Toby and other characters, Punch and Judy being the main characters, of course.

The Punch And Judy Bank is an accurate overall representation of both the type booth or stage and the two puppets involved. Unusually enough the bank was covered in the United States by a regular patent and a design patent. The regular patent was issued July 15, 1884 to C. G. Shepard and Peter Adams, Jr., assignor to Walter J. Shepard, all of Buffalo, N.Y.

There are eight figure drawings with this patent, and while they resemble the bank and some of its operation, the drawings differ considerably in appearance as compared to the actual bank. The drawings look more like a house with regular roof, windows, door, and so on. Well on July 22, 1884, a design patent was issued to the same men of the same city. The design drawing is practically identical to the bank itself.

Obviously Shepard and Adams had a change of heart as to the appearance of the bank and the design patent specifically refers to the frame or casing as representing a miniature stage. Bearing this out is the fact that the regular patent, while issued July 15, 1884, was originally filed October 30, 1883. The design patent was filed May 28, 1884, some seven months later, allowing ample time for the change in the drawing, and, of course, this is the reason there are two different patents, the design patent covering the bank as actually produced. It was made by the Shepard Hardware Company of Buffalo, N.Y.

Two banks are shown in the photo for two reasons. Please note the different type lettering in the name on each, also the bank on the left is shown before or after operation and the bank on the right shows the figures set to operate. Since there is a sight preference for the larger and more decorative type lettering on the bank shown on the left, the bank on the right is considered a variety. There is another variety of the bank with slightly different lettering in the name, but similar to the bank shown on the right. All three have comparable value in like condition.

The two banks shown are in unusually fine original condition with no repairs and excellent paint. Colors are basically the same on each bank and are as follows:

The front edging and entire back of the bank in red, the name section and bottom front section yellow, bank pictured left has a dark blue line over the name which continues down each side of the drapes. The drapes are blue with orange ties at the top and on each side drape. The sunburst corners in the section under the figures are maroon and blue with red dots, as is the center decoration. In back of the figures is representation of drapery in blue and dark blue. This is on a tan background, and the two tassels are yellow and red. Both Punch and Judy have red and yellow hats. Judy has pink flesh tone face and hand, her white eyes have brown and black pupils, and her lips are red. Her hair is black, as are her eyebrows. She wears a blue dress with yellow buttons and white collar with blue stripes. The tray she holds in her hand is black. Punch has a more cream color face and hand. He holds a brown club in his hand. His eyes, mouth, eyebrows, and hair are the same colors as Judy’s. He wears a red jacket, also with white collar having blue stripes. It is, as one can readily visualize, a very colorful bank.

To operate the bank the figures are first placed into position by pulling the lever shown on the bank on the right. This causes Judy to turn clockwise bringing the tray forward. At the same time Punch moves back and brings the club into striking position. The lever when pulled out locks into position. A coin is then placed on the tray. Another lever is underneath the one that is pulled out. When this lever is pressed down Judy turns dropping the coin inside the bank and Punch darts forward snapping the club down toward Judy. The figures are now in the position as in the bank on the left (see cover).

In closing it bears mention that the bottom base plate is quite interesting. It has a japanned type finish and the following is cast in raised letters: "Buffalo, N.Y. — U.S.A." "Patd in U.S. July 15 ’84 and July 22 ’84" "Rd in England. No. 10423." So the bank is rather an exceptional case having a regular and design patent in the United States and registered in England at the Patent Office.


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