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The Toad on Stump Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – July, 1987

     If one were to poll mechanical bank collectors to determine their "favorite" or "prize" banks, sadly the Toad on Stump would most likely be omitted from all lists. Its unglamorous subject matter, small size, its fairly common status, lack of exciting action, subdued coloration, and lackluster appearance contribute to its non-impressive image. The Toad on Stump may very well be regarded as "the little bank nobody loves." However, a closer look at this innocuous bank is suggested lest some very desirable characteristics are overlooked. A superb, all-original example of Toad on Stump will reveal the delicate quality of its castings, abounding with graceful flora and fauna, and the chromatic, but tasteful, color scheme with the toad on one variation painted chartreuse, affording it an air of luminescence.
     Through the years, the inventor of this bank has remained a mystery, although similarities do exist between it and a bank patented by Russell Frisbie on August 20, 1872 (Figure 1). These patent papers, combined with an advertisement from an early J. and E. Stevens Company catalog page (Figure 2), support the popular contention that Toad on Stump was designed by Frisbie while employed at the Stevens Foundry of Cromwell, Connecticut.
     The action of Toad on Stump is precisely as described in Frisbie's patent papers for the "Frog on Round Base Bank" (Figure 1), with the exception that a small lever at the rear of the toad's leg is pressed to initiate it, rather than the frog's front foot. The patent goes on to read: ". . . an artificial frog, whose mouth is opened for the reception of a coin by pressing one of its feet, and which drops the coin in the box on releasing it" Unlike the Frog on Round Base, the money deposited into the Toad on Stump is removed from the bank via a round coin trap underneath its base.
     There are no casting variations of the Toad on Stump, but there are two color variations. These pertain solely to the toad, who may be painted either dark green or chartreuse. The colors of the bank pictured in Figure 3 are as follows: the toad is chartreuse with metallic gold highlights. Its mouth is red and it has black eyes with vermillion eyebrows. The operating lever is also painted vermillion. The tree stump and the underside of the bank are painted with a dark brown japan varnish. The floral designs which em­bellish the base are gold with black highlights, and the turtle is reddish-brown with white spots. Finally, there are several representations of severed branches emerging from the stump. These branches are painted yellow ochre.
     I offer apologies for reiterating the qualities of Toad on Stump: its delicate castings, eloquent design, attractive coloration, a minute degree of rarity, and possibly being manufactured by a company widely known for producing toys of impeccable quality. But the question still remains as to why this bank is not more highly esteemed. Perhaps the answer focuses wholly upon its subject matter – a lowly, wart-ridden toad, resting lazily upon a decaying tree Stump.
     Admittedly, the Toad on Stump may lack the charisma of a Professor Pug Frog or Harlequin bank, but it is to be appreciated for the subtle qualities it does possess. Indeed, a foundry based in Taiwan did see merit in the Toad on Stump, for they have taken their time and resources to reproduce it. The casting of this bank is quite crude and easily detectable. Nevertheless, I am including a base diagram of an original Toad on Stump (Figure 4) to discern the bank's size and scale. The reproduction will appear approximately one-sixteenth of an inch smaller across the base.

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