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Elephant Howdah (Pull Tail)
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - June, 1983

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Mechanical banks in the form of animals always have a certain special interest since a broad spectrum of different animals are represented. These include rabbits, bears, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, monkeys, a cow, buffalo, horses, lions, mules, a squirrel, and last, but certainly not least, elephants.

There are numerous collectors of animal figures such as those who specialize in dogs, cats, horses, and in particular, elephants. The many different figural elephants offer a broad field to the elephant collector. It is interesting to note that many collectors of elephants who have no interest whatsoever in mechanical banks will have elephant mechanicals in their respective collections.

This now brings us to our choice as No. 302 in the numerical classification – the Elephant Howdah, one of the most popular of all the elephant mechanicals. It has a lot going for it – a fine representation of an elephant with his trunk raised in the good luck position, an attractive howdah, and very nice clever action.

The bank was made by Hubley Manufacturing Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, over a period of many years. It is a well-cast cast iron piece and quite strong and durable. It was made into the late 30’s (the later examples were white, by the way), and, as a matter of fact, the writer has a 1937 Hubley Catalog that shows the bank at $7.50 a dozen, wholesale price of course.

The bank shown is in extra fine all original condition with colors of paint as follows: The figure itself is an all over gray. His tusks are white, as are his eyes, which have black pupils. The blanket is dark blue with wide gold fringe. A wide red strap goes around and under his body. The howdah is red with ornate outlining and definitions in gold. His mouth is red, as are the corners of his eyes. The end of his trunk, where the coin is placed, is also red. All in all an attractive, colorful bank.

To operate, a coin is placed in the provided slot. The photo shows the proper position of the trunk to receive the coin. The elephant’s tail is then pulled back causing the trunk to snap back over the head of the elephant. The coin is thrown into the front section of the howdah and on inside the body. The action is swift and effective.

Coins are removed by taking the bank apart, which is held together by a center screw.

In closing, it bears mention that elephants form a very fine group of the mechanical banks. Also of note, Hubley was the last of the cast iron mechanical bank manufacturers to go out of the business of producing cast iron mechanicals. This occurred during the 1941-1942 period.


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