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Stump Speaker Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - May, 1972

72-05.JPG (12540 bytes)The bank we have chosen as No. 208 in the numerical classification is quite timely and appropriate in this important Election Year of 1972. The Stump Speaker is a mechanical that would seem to fit the political situation like a glove. It is a quite attractive bank in any case, although its name does have a definitive area of meaning.

In the 1800’s speakers, usually political, appearing before backwood audiences often spoke while standing on a tree stump. Eventually speakers of this type were referred to as "stump speakers." Then along the same political line came the terminology "stump orator" and "stump campaign." As example, the debates between Lincoln and Douglas in 1858, when competing for the Senate, were referred to as a "stump campaign." Eventually the term "stump speaker" broadened in its usage to include all those who made political speeches through the countryside, but not necessarily on tree stumps. "Stump" then referred to the platform on which the speaker stood. And in electioneerings a politician "stumps" the State.

The Stump Speaker Bank was patented November 16, 1886 by Charles G. Shepard and Peter Adams of Buffalo, N.Y. Adams, was the assignor to Walter J. Shepard of the same city. The patent papers covering the bank are quite detailed with three pages of drawings. These drawings first show the bank complete, then an overall cut-through back view, cut-through side view, and a page of various operating parts. The papers are usually precise and well cover the bank. It was made by the Shepard Hardware Company of Buffalo. As compared to the patent papers, Shepard made several changes when they produced the bank. The face of the figure was changed to that of a Negro, an umbrella lying on the platform was eliminated, and a perky top hat was added.

The all original bank shown is in the extensive Leon Perelman collection. Paint condition is very good and colors are as follows: The top hat is gray with a black band, his face and hands are dark brown, hair and eyebrows are black. His white eyes have tan iris and black pupils. He has white teeth with red spacing between, and his lips are red. He wears a snappy green suit with yellow vest, red coat collar, white shirt, and black tie. The jacket edges, pockets, and cuffs are piped in red. His shoes are black. The satchel is light and dark tan with black frame and handle. Top of the platform represents wood boards and is gray with some color definition between the boards. Front, back and side plates of the base are red. The name "Stump Speaker" on the front plate along with the decoration is gold. The name "Bank" on each side plate is also gold. The four corner columns are black, as is the under-edging of the platform and the base plate edging. Yellow striping then frames each base plate. A blue-gray lever completes the coloring of the bank. Quite colorful, and a very attractive toy savings device.

To operate, a coin is placed in his outstretched right hand. On pressing the lever his mouth closes, he lowers his right hand and forearm and the satchel opens. The coin drops from his hand into the open satchel. On releasing the lever, the satchel closes and the coin drops into the base container. His right arm returns to the position as shown in the picture. The balanced jaw swings back and forth a number of times, giving the effect of speaking. Good action and completely in keeping with the name of the bank.

The Stump Speaker is sort of a companion bank to Uncle Sam (HOBBIES, July, 1965), and they are directly tied together by the patents involved. As a matter of fact, the base plate of the Stump Speaker has the date June 8, 1886, inscribed along one end. Actually this is the design patent date of the Uncle Sam Bank. This came to be a fashion. Both patents, the regular on the Stump Speaker and the design on the Uncle Sam, were applied for on the same date, May 1, 1886. The design patent was issued first, June 8th, and since both banks have the same operation and working parts, this date was used on each. Under other circumstances, the date of November 16th, issue date of the regular patent, could have been employed since the operations covered by this patent also apply to both banks. Shepard simply decided to use the earlier issue date since it was expedient for them to do so.


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