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The Paddy and the Pig Bank
(The Shamrock Bank)
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine March, 1984

     The old Irish saying, "As Irish as Paddy's Pig," could not be closer to the truth when describing this month's featured mechanical bank. First manufactured and sold in the 1880's by the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut, under the name, "Shamrock Bank," it was affectionately and more appropriately renamed "Paddy and the Pig" by mechanical bank devotees.
     James H. Bowen of Philadelphia, PA invented the Paddy and the Pig bank and was granted Patent number 262,361 on August 8, 1882. Attesting to this fact, and inscribed into the base plate, is the following information: "Eng. Pat. July 28,1882. U. S Pat. Aug. 8, 1882." Of particular interest is the fact that this same patent which protects the Paddy and Pig bank also protects the Two Frogs bank, the Reclining Chinaman bank, and the Elephant and Three Clowns bank. In addition, these patent drawings protect only the internal mechanism, and not the subject matter. (See Fig. 1)
     The Paddy and the Pig bank reflects a great deal of the same prejudicial attitudes shared by many toys and banks manufactured in the 19th century. The theme of this particular mechanical was centered upon the newly immigrated Irish people fleeing the famine and oppression of their homeland. The Paddy and the Pig bank portrays just about every conceivable stereotype ever concocted about the Irish: a man with the features and proportions of a leprechaun, who is adorned with shamrocks and a clay pipe. He sits with a jug of whiskey jutting from his pocket; his legs straddle a bespeckled pig who kicks pennies from its snout into Paddy's mouth.
     In order to operate the bank, a penny is placed upon the pig's flat nose. The lever in Paddy's back is depressed. Simultaneously, the pig's left leg kicks the coin towards Paddy's mouth, which then opens, extending a long pink tongue. Paddy's eyes roll upward in delight as the coin is deposited within the bank. These coins are removed by way of a round coin trap underneath the base.
     Because of the action the pig's left leg performs, as described above, this fine mechanical is often discovered in a condition where that leg is either broken or missing.
     I am not aware of any casting variations of the Paddy and Pig bank. However, there are three color variations which pertain solely to Paddy's coat. It could either be dark blue, dark brown, or dark green. All other parts of the bank are painted in a somewhat standardized color scheme: the base upon which Paddy sits is bright green; he has a light tan tote bag knotted around a brown shillelagh. A little brown jug juts from his back pocket. His jacket has a black collar and his sleeve buttons are gold. His tie is brown and yellow and the handkerchief in his lapel is tan with red polka dots. His knickers are yellow with black buttons and his knee socks are red. Paddy's shoes are black with gold buckles. His grey hat is adorned with a black band, a green shamrock and a white clay pipe. His face and hands are a pink flesh color, and his hair and eyebrows are black. His eyes are brown with black pupils. He has pink lips, a pink tongue, and his teeth are white. The pig is white with black spots. Its mouth is pink, as are the insides of his ears. Its hoof is tan and the tip of its nose is gold; the rope around its legs is tan.
     In view of the fact that the Paddy and Pig bank has been reproduced, I am including a base diagram (Fig 2) indicating the size of an original bank. A reproduction will measure approximately one-eighth of an inch shorter along the base than an original.
     Paddy and the Pig is not considered rare, but its colorful, attractive appearance and complicated life-like action, coupled with its unusual subject matter, make it an extremely popular and highly sought-after mechanical bank.
     Finally, a cautionary note: because of the fragile nature and sharp action of the pig's leg, many Paddy banks are found with this part recast. You are correct in assuming that this greatly reduces its value to the serious collector.
     Note: It has been brought to my attention that the article concerning the "Mamma Katzenjammer" mechanical bank (Jan. 1984 issue of Antique Toy World) incorrectly stated that the Kenton Hardware Company manufactured only this particular mechanical bank. The fact is that Kenton also produced the "Standing Bear" (slot in chest) mechanical bank.

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