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A Santa and A Clown
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - April, 1979

79-04.JPG (13686 bytes)

It never ceases to amaze the writer how a battery operated mechanical bank will turn up that he has never heard of or seen before. It’s happened again on the recent occasion of a visit to see Al Davidson and look over his fine collection of modern mechanical banks, 1935 to date. It seems that not too long ago a collector disposed of his modern mechanicals and Al obtained, among others, the two great banks shown — Santa At Desk, Figure 1, and the Clown At Desk, Figure 2.

The banks were obviously made by the same Japanese concern and this then would lead to the same manufacturer that made the Santa Phone Bank (HOBBIES, May 1978). Like the Santa Phone, the two banks under discussion would be in the time period of mid 1950’s to early 1960’s.

Santa At Desk, Figure 1, is a bright cheerful bank with colors as follows: The base holding the desk is green and the desk is gold with decorations in brown, blue, green and pink. On the left end of the desk is a green Christmas tree with red, white, blue and pink decorations. The right end of the desk has a brown teddy bear sitting on stacked gift boxes in a variety of colors. Santa wears a red velour or velvet outfit with white fur trim. His face is typical Santa with white beard and so on. His desk phone is red and a representation of a blue book is by the phone and is lettered in red ‘CHILD PLACE’. The coin slot to the front of the desk has ‘ONCE’ in black and ‘10c’ in large red numbers. By the phone there is a blue button with ‘CALL BELL’ underneath. There is also a blue button by the coin slot. So much for the colors.

To operate, a dime is placed in the slot where it stays in position. The call bell button is pressed and held down until the phone lights up and starts ringing. Santa lifts the phone to his ear and lowers his right hand with pencil to the desk. He moves his head back and forth as though talking and writing. After a timed period he returns to the position as shown in the photo. The blue button by the coin slot is then pressed and the coin drops into the provided receptacle. Unusual is the coin trap which is on the front of the desk and through which one can see the coins saved. This trap is spring loaded and when pressed back by the knob, coins are released.

The Clown At Desk, Figure 2, is also a bright, cheerful bank with the silver desk on a blue base. The desk has decorations in red, white and yellow. The clown wears a white hat with red polka dots and a red jacket with blue collar trimmed with white. He has a blue bow on each sleeve and wears a yellow tie. He has a typical clown face colored in white, blue, red and black. The phone is red and the desk top is similar to Santa’s with the same call bell, coin slot, and so on.

The operation of the Clown At Desk is the same as Santa’s with one exception. The clown’s head does not move back and forth; his mouth moves as though talking on the phone. As with Santa, the coin trap is on the front of the desk and is the same type.

So we add two more very interesting battery operated mechanicals to the list of those known to exist. The battery group of the mechanical banks does offer some really great animation and interesting subject matter. They are very well designed toy savings devices and at the top in action of all the mechanical banks.


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