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The Mammy and Baby Bank
(Baby Mine)

by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine January, 1987

     The parent-offspring relationship is a popular theme depicted in several mechanical banks. These include: "Lion and Monkeys," wherein we see a baby monkey holding tightly onto its mother for dear life, as she wards off the advances of a fierce lion. In the more sedate "Hen and Chick" bank, mama hen blankets and protects her new-born nestling; the "Eagle and Eagletts" portrays a mother eagle feeding her fledglings. In the "Boy Robbing Bird's Nest," two parent birds frantically attempt to dissuade a would-be nest-robbing boy from accomplishing his arduous task. The "Mama Katzenjammer" bank has mama eternally attempting to separate her squabbling siblings, Hans and Fritz. The "Old Woman in the Shoe" illustrates a mother with switch in hand, ominously warning her mischievous children. Last, but certainly not least, is the subject of this month's article and the one example which I feel best extols the virtues of motherhood, the "Mammy and Baby" bank (Figure 1). This particular mechanical portrays a "mammy" cradling her baby girl, as she feeds pennies to the child.
     The "Mammy and Baby" was invented by Alfred C. Rex of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for which he was granted Patent number 306,775, on October 21, 1884. The bank was subsequently manufactured by Alfred C. Rex and Company of Frankford, Pennsylvania, previously known as the Kyser and Rex Company. (The name change occurred after 1884, when Louis Kyser and Alfred C. Rex dissolved their partnership.)
     The final production bank follows the patent papers (Figure 2) quite closely, with the exception of the following: Mammy's feeding arm, the position of the baby, the pocket in mammy's apron, and the operating lever are all in reverse positions from the patent drawings. Another interesting feature is that there are two separate mechanically-operated coin slots. The first, and most obvious, is the baby's mouth. The second is mammy's apron pocket. Alfred C. Rex offered an explanation in his patent as to the logic behind the utilization of both coin slots. The mouth, the smaller of the slots, was designed to accept five-cent pieces. The larger opening, the apron pocket, was made to accommodate the larger 25-cent piece.
     The Mammy and Baby bank was originally advertised in toy catalogs and magazines as the "Baby Mine." Its present name, given to it by today's bank collectors, is assumed to be a more illustrative description of this bank.
     Aside from a" Patent Pending" reference cast into the backs of some of the Mammy and Baby banks, there are no known casting variations. However, there are several color combinations. Mammy's bandana, dress, and chair and baby's dress and bonnet could be painted any combination of red, yellow, tan, dark blue, green, olive, and purple. The colors of the bank pictured in Figure 1 are as follows: Mammy's face and hands are brown; she has a red mouth with white teeth and white eyes with black pupils. Her bandana and neckerchief are dark blue with white dots. She is wearing a tan dress that has red cuffs with yellow polka dots. Her apron is white and she has black shoes. Baby's hands, feet and face are lighter shade of brown. She has a red mouth and white eyes with black pupils. Her bonnet is red, as is her dress, which has a white lace hem. Baby rests upon a yellow pillow with red polka dots. Mammy's chair is bright green. Finally, the spoon and operating lever are painted gold.
     The action of the Mammy and Baby is quite amusing. A coin is placed upon the spoon in mammy's right hand. The lever is then depressed. Simultaneously, mammy tilts her head and hand downward; the spoon pivots to drop the coin into baby's mouth, whereupon baby kicks her legs with glee. If a coin was also placed into mammy's apron pocket, an internal baffle would have opened during the operation, allowing this coin to also be deposited within the bank Accumulated coins are removed by way of square key lock underneath the base.
     It is important for the collector to note that the spoon is not produced from cast iron, but rather from sheet metal. Since this is a more fragile material, it was subject to bending and breaking. Many times, when a Mammy and Baby bank is located, the spoon is either missing or replaced with a reproduction. It is my contention that, although an original spoon is important, a fine example of this bank should not be passed up for lack of one.
     Taking into consideration the popularity of Mammy and Baby with collectors, and the high price one would expect to pay for a good example, it is surprising that there are no reproductions of this bank. Nevertheless, I am including a base diagram (Figure 3) which should give the reader an idea of the size and scale of this intriguing mechanical.

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