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The Initiating Bank Second Degree
(The Goat, Frog and Old Man    The Greedy Frog Bank)

by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine November, 1986

     Antique mechanical banks portray an extensive range of themes, varying from politics, to biblical stories, fairy tales, nature, hunting, everyday occurrences, etc., etc.. There are also those banks which depict images that appear to be created with no particular message intended. The Goat, Frog and Old Man (Figure 1) is representative of just such a bank. Perhaps the inventor's inspiration originated from an old folk tale or from some symbolic or mystical concoction. Or, was it merely the whimsy and imagination of its creator?
     On September 28, 1880, George W. Eddy, of Plainville, Connecticut, assignor to Andrew Turnbull and James A. Swanston, of New Britain, Connecticut, was granted Patent number 232,699 (Figure 2) for the Initiating Bank, First Degree (Goat, Frog and Darkey bank). This patent also protected the Initiating Bank, Second Degree (Goat, Frog and Old Man bank). These patent papers make reference to the fact that various animals, figures and forms may be utilized in the design and action of the bank. Therefore, we see that the mule depicted in the patent drawings in Figure 2 has evolved into a billy goat in the final production bank (Figure 1).
      The Goat, Frog and Old Man bank is referred to by various names, and the following will attempt to serve as an explanation. The bank was first advertised in a 19th-century wholesale toy catalog as the "Initiating Bank Second Degree." Figure 3 portrays an ad from the 1882 edition of Ehrichs' Fashion Quarterly which introduces the mechanical as "The Greedy Frog Bank, 85 cents each, by mail 60 cents extra." Because of the confusion in distinguishing the Initiating Bank, First Degree (Goat Butts Black Man's Butt) from the Initiating Bank, Second Degree, the latter was ultimately referred to as the "Goat, Frog and Old Man."
     Both banks were manufactured by the Mechanical Novelty Works of New Britain, Connecticut, which was owned and operated by Messrs. Eddy, Turnbull and Swanston. Among other mechanical banks which are believed to have been manufactured by this firm are: "Squirrel and Tree Stump," "Afghanistan," and "Bull Dog Savings Bank." The clockworks of the latter were possibly manufactured by the Ives, Blakeslee Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
     The action of the Goat, Frog and Old Man is relatively uncomplicated. The goat with the old man astride, is pushed back, enabling it to rest on its haunches. A coin is placed upon the old man's tray. Either the lever in front of the goat can be pressed, or the tail of the goat can be gently nudged upward, causing the goat and its rider to spring forward. Simultaneously, the frog, with its mouth agape, rises upward to catch the coin from the old man's tray. In order to retrieve the deposited coins, the bank must be disassembled. This is accomplished by removing the large screw beneath the base.
     The color scheme of the Goat, Frog and Old Man is quite simple and attractive. The entire surface is coated with a brown, japan-type varnish. The old man is painted a bronze-copper color. The frog has a green head, gold eyes, red mouth, and its underbelly is painted white and yellow. The ribbed design bordering the top, and the bottom edge of the base are painted gold.
     When contemplating purchase of this particular bank, be aware that all four legs of the goat are extremely fragile and these should be examined carefully for breaks or repairs. In addition, abundant reproductions of the Goat, Frog and Old Man bank exist, with many dating as far back as the 1930s. Because of their age, these early recasts can prove difficult for the novice collector to detect. My recommendation is to be guided by the size of the base diagram in Figure 4. A reproduction will appear approximately one-eighth inch shorter along the base than the original.

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