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The Chimpanzee Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – September, 1983

     Monkeys have been the subject of many a mechanical bank. However, only one mechanical represents a member of the family of Great Apes– that bank being the "Chimpanzee" (Other members of this family, but never depicted in a mechanical bank, include the Gorilla and the Orangutan, with the Gibbon sometimes included in the group.)
     On September 21, 1880, Louis Kyser and Alfred C. Rex of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were granted Patent Number 232,511 for their design of the Chimpanzee Bank. As evident by the patent drawings (Fig. 1), the bank, as it was eventually manufactured, follows those drawings quite faithfully. Of importance and interest is the fact that not only did Kyser and Rex design and patent the Chimpanzee bank, but they also manufactured it.
     The action of this mechanical is both amusing and quite realistic. The Chimpanzee, representing an accountant with his ledger, sits behind a desk pen poised and ready to enter the deposited coin into his record book. In order to make a deposit, the slide in front of the ledger is pushed back exposing the coin slot, thus allowing a coin to be placed into the bank. Simultaneously, the Chimpanzees head tilts forward, his left arm lowers, and the pen touches the ledger as if to record the deposit; a bell chimes once from within the bank.
     The deposited coins are removed by way of a small square locking coin trap underneath the bank.
     Close examination of the Chimpanzee bank will reveal that great care and attention has been given to fine detail. This was the case with most banks manufactured by Kyser and Rex. Examples of other mechanical banks manufactured by these gentlemen are: Bowling Alley, Butting Buffalo, Confectionery, Dog Tray, Hindu. Lion and Two Monkeys, Mammy and Baby, Mikado, Motor Bank, Organ and Monkey, Organ and Monkey with Boy and Girl, Organ and Monkey with Cat and Dog, Organ Grinder and Dancing Bear, Tiny Organ and Monkey, Uncle Tom, and possibly, the Zig Zag Bank (see A. T. W., January, 1983).
     The Chimpanzee is not considered a rare bank; however, it is quite difficult to acquire one that is complete and in fine condition. When a Chimpanzee bank is found, it is very likely that either the roof will be cracked, the finial missing, the head and/or the arm of the Chimpanzee broken or missing, the base plate missing, and, most often, the paint will be in extremely poor condition. Find one complete, working, and in fine paint condition, and you have a true rarity . . . a mechanical well worth the premium price you most likely will have to pay for it.
     An interesting fact pertaining to the construction of this bank is that no screws were used as fasteners. The entire bank is secured with either rivets or bent-over iron lugs.
     The Chimpanzee bank does come painted in several color variations. The colors of the bank pictured in this article are: a red building, light green finial, base, window frames and archway over the chimpanzee. The chimpanzee's head and paws are brown; his mouth is red; his jacket is red with yellow piping; his eyes, shirt and ledger book are white. The edges of the ledger book, as well as the word "Chimpanzee," the tin window inserts, and various other decorations are finished in gold. The desk is bright blue and the inside of his cupola is lilac.
     Other paint variations of this bank reverse the red and green color combinations, and the Chimpanzee's jacket may be either red, green, blue, or yellow. Also, still another basic color variation of this bank utilizes predominantly red and blue, rather than red and green.
     Because of Kyser and Rex's penchant for unusual color schemes, I would caution against the hasty declaration that a Chimpanzee bank may be a misrepresentation if it fails to conform to any of the aforementioned color schemes. The possibility of still another color combination cannot be ruled out. As I have emphasized in other articles, if you are uncertain as to the authenticity of a bank, an expert in this field should be consulted.
     The Chimpanzee bank has been reproduced, and, therefore, I am including a base diagram showing its exact dimensions. A reproduced bank will be approximately one-eighth inch smaller than indicated (Fig. 2).
     The Chimpanzee has several design variations of which I am aware, but these do not add or detract from its value. Two relate to the tin inserts behind the lower arched windows: in one, the tin covers the windows fully, and in the other, the tin provides only partial concealment, with the arches exposed. Also, in one variation, the Chimpanzee's shoulders are quite wide and give the appearance of a triangular shape, while the other portrays the Chimpanzee with narrow shoulders.
     In closing, I feel the "Chimpanzee" is an extremely well-designed bank and makes an attractive addition to the Monkey and Great Ape group. Also, the collector who possesses a fine example of one should consider himself quite fortunate.

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