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The Lion Hunter Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine July, 1985

      Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, was a decorated war hero, an explorer, and one of the most renowned big game hunters of his time. It was the concept of "Teddy, the Hunter" that was incorporated into one, and possibly two, mechanical banks designed by Charles A. Bailey.
     The "Teddy and the Bear" bank, patented on February 19, 1907 (Figure 1), was, undoubtedly, an effigy of Theodore Roosevelt, having been designed, patented, manufactured. and named after him during his terms of office in the White House. The reason for hesitation in proclaiming Teddy the subject of the "Lion Hunter" bank is the lack of documentation or mention of Roosevelt in the patent papers shown in Figures 1 and 2. Nor does his name appear on the manufactured bank as it does on the "Teddy and the Bear" bank.
     Perhaps the following conjecture may clarify this issue: Roosevelt's term of office, after re-election in 1904, ended in 1909, whereupon he, his son, Kermit; and a group of scientists set sail for Africa to hunt big game. The expedition was to claim 296 specimens, including nine lions. Riding on the success of his "Teddy and the Bear" bank, perhaps Charles Bailey seized upon the opportunity to make the most of Roosevelt's safari and decision to run, once again, for the presidency in the election of 1912, by designing the "Lion Hunter" bank. Bailey was granted Patent number 41,696 on August 22, 1911 (Figure 2) for this mechanical.
     "Teddy and the Bear" and the "Lion Hunter" were both manufactured by the J. and E. Stevens Foundry of Cromwell, Connecticut.
     The supposition that Bailey had Roosevelt in mind when he designed the "Lion Hunter" bank is supported by the fact that it was conceived and patented at the time of Roosevelt's African game hunt In addition, the face of the hunter bears an uncanny resemblance to the handle-bar mustached Teddy Roosevelt, The omission of Teddy's name, either by Bailey, or J. and E. Stevens, from the manufactured bank may, perhaps, be explained by the fact that Roosevelt lost his bid for the presidency in the 1912 election. Unfortunately, it was his controversial platform that led to a split party vote resulting in the emergence of a victorious Woodrow Wilson.
     It may be noted that the patent drawing (Figure 2) indicates a blank area where the words, "Lion Hunter" appear on the final production bank. Perhaps Bailey anticipated the outcome of the election before naming the bank.
     The design patent (Figure 2) protects only the external "ornamentation" of the "Lion Hunter' bank. It is the patent for the "Teddy and the Bear" bank (Figure 1) which protects the inner mechanism and workings of the "Lion Hunter" bank.
     The action of the" Lion Hunter" is extremely animated: first, the coin slide atop the rifle's barrel is pulled back, cocking the gun. The hunter's head moves forward as if taking aim. A penny is then placed in front of the slide. (A toy paper gunpowder cap may be inserted in front of the gun's hammer.) The lever is then pressed (Figure 3). Simultaneously, the cap fires and the hunter's head moves back as if from the recoil. The lion rears up, and the penny is propelled forward, being deposited beneath the lion, into the bank.
     (The lion can be made to rear up without cocking the rifle by merely depressing the lever. This "double" action is a unique feature of both the "Lion Hunter" and the "Teddy and the Bear" banks - and is so described in the patent papers. In the "Teddy and the Bear" bank the bear pops up out of the treetop when the lever is pressed.)
     There are no casting or color variations of the "Lion Hunter" bank. The color scheme is also constant, and the one pictured in Figure  is as follows: the hunter's face and hands area pink flesh color; he has a red mouth with white teeth; the corneas of his eyes are white; and the pupils are black, as are his eyebrows and his handle-bar moustache.  He has a red mouth. His uniform is tan with a gold bullet belt. The boots are green with gold buttons and his pith helmet is light beige. The rifle is silver with a reddish brown stock. The lion is brown. The base is dark green with a metallic gold tinge. The floral design, as well as the name. "LION HUNTER," are painted copper. There are flecks of mica applied randomly over the base to give the effect of rock.
     The "Lion Hunter" bank possesses all of the qualities which make it highly desirable: a degree of rarity. good action and color, imposing size and design, and the distinction of having been designed by the most prominent mechanical bank designer of the 19th century, Charles A. Bailey.
     I am not aware of any reproductions of the "Lion Hunter" bank. Nevertheless, included is a base diagram (Figure 4) to indicate size and scale.
     Correction: (from September, 1985) In the article entitled, "The Lion Hunter Bank," Antique Toy World, July 1985, it was erroneously stated that the Hunter has a red mouth with white teeth. That should have been descriptive of the Lion.

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