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Speaking Dog Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - October, 1974

74-10.JPG (17287 bytes)

Another one of those more attractive quite popular in its time mechanical banks is our choice as No. 240 in the numerical classification. This bank, the Speaking Dog, has that very appropriate Victorian look about it and is completely indicative of its time period. In other words, you can just look at the bank and tell with reasonable accuracy the time area in which it was made to represent.

It is a sturdy, well constructed bank with somewhat complicated mechanism and excellent action — all of which is in its favor in making it the desirable collector’s item it has become. Since it was made in quantity over a number of years it is one of those banks that can be found now and then in near mint condition, a desirable factor. The Speaking Dog’s desirability angle is greatly enhanced by the fact it is a mechanical made for girls. While a number of the mechanical banks could be used by girls, only a very few were made more or less specifically for their use. And girl’s banks include some quite rare ones like Girl In The Victorian Chair, Red Riding Hood, Girl Skipping Rope, and the very rare Old Woman In The Shoe. Needless to say, none of these banks are remotely as available as the Speaking Dog. So the bank is one of the only little girl types that is more readily attainable by today’s collector.

Mechanicals made in the main for boys greatly outnumber those made for girls. There is a large number, however, that were made which were appropriate to both boys and girls. These include the animal banks, building types, and various others. As example of the scarcity of girl’s banks take the rather large group of the bust type mechanicals. Of these only the two type Dinahs and possibly, if one wants to consider it so, the Queen Victoria Bust are really girl’s type banks. Understand, however, strictly speaking the Queen Victoria Bust is a commemorative or celebration item, rather than a bank made to appeal to girls only.

The Speaking Dog was patented, as inscribed on the under base plate, July 14, 1885, and October 20, 1885. The patent of October 20, is the important one consisting of three pages of drawings having 17 figures thereon. This is an unusual number of drawings and bears out, as mentioned previously, the rather complicated mechanism of the bank. The patent was issued to Charles G. Shepard and Peter Adams, Jr., of Buffalo, N.Y., said Adams assignor to Walter J. Shepard of the same place. It was first made by the Shepard Hardware Company and then by J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Conn. Other than variations in the painting, the only differences between the Stevens bank and the Shepard bank are the coin traps. Shepard used their conventional rectangular locking trap and Stevens their regular round coin trap. The outline of the filled in rectangular section for the Shepard trap can be seen on the Stevens Speaking Dog Banks.

The text of the patent consists of two sheets, one full printed on both sides and the other sheet part printed on one side. Of particular interest in the text is the fact that the item held in the girl’s right hand, thought by most collectors to represent a mirror, is a fan or tray. The bank as manufactured is practically identical to the patent drawings.

The Speaking Dog shown is in fine all original condition with colors as follows: The entire base and seat is red with the name in gold, and yellow striping above and below the name. The section of the base on which the dog sits is gray. The dog is a tan khaki color with some white highlighting on his paws and ears. He has a gold collar, white eyes, red tongue and pink mouth. The fan or tray held by the girl is black as are her shoes. She wears a red dress with white collar, blue tie, and a brown back bow at her waist. Her hat is yellow with a blue ribbon. Her stockings are light blue. Face and hands are flesh color. Her eyes are white with blue pupils, mouth red, and eyebrows black. Her hair is a blonde color.

To operate the bank a coin is placed on the fan or tray. Then all the following happens when the operating lever is depressed — a section of the seat under the fan or tray opens — the right arm moves back dropping the coin into the open seat section — the dog opens his mouth as though barking (lower jaw drops down) — the tail of the dog swings up. On releasing the lever all parts return to position except the tail which is counter balanced so it wags up and down for a short period of time. A very fine action bank with most attractive coloring.

Shepard Hardware, during the period in which they manufactured the Speaking Dog, issued a fine advertising card in colors showing the bank in an attractive room setting. This is a quite desirable item to have along with the bank and more difficult to come by than an example of the bank itself.

 

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