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The Clown on Globe Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – November, 1987

     Who amongst us has not marveled at the grand spectacle of the Circus? Death-defying and thrilling daredevil acts are performed by acrobats and animal tamers, while the jugglers amaze and delight the audiences. And, in contrast, there are the clowns who weave through these performances, bringing comic relief and laughter through zany and whimsical routines. There are several mechanical banks which attempt to capture the spirit of these stumbling, bumbling buffoons. Included are such favorites as: "Humpty Dumpty"; "Circus"; "Tin Clown and Dog"; "Clown Bust"; "Clown on Bar"; "Hoop-la"; "Jolly Joe"; "Clown and Harlequin"; "Punch and Judy"; "Trick Dog"; "Elephant and Three Clowns"; "Acrobats"; " Bill-E -Grin"; "Zig Zag Bank"; and, the subject of this article, "Clown on Globe."
     The Clown on Globe was patented on May 20, 1890, by James H. Bowen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was assigned U.S. Patent Number 428,450 (Figure I), which is the identical patent acquired by Bowen for his "Girl Skipping Rope" bank. The words "PATD 428450 & PENDG," are embossed underneath the base plate of the Clown on Globe and facilitated location of the patent papers represented in this article. Examination of these patent drawings will reveal that they protect only the internal mechanism of the Clown on Globe, and not its external design or subject matter.
     Incidentally, James Bowen had the distinction of hav­ing seventeen of his mechanical bank designs commercially produced. He was second only to Charles A. Bailey, who is credited with production of twenty-four designs. The J. and E. Stevens Foundry of Cromwell, Connecticut, manufactured all of the banks designed by Bowen and most of those designed by Bailey. Bailey, in fact, produced most of his own earlier lead-zinc alloy banks.
     Operation of the Clown on Globe is quite unique since it employs two separate and independent actions. First, the elongated operating lever on top of the base is lifted. (This closes the coin slot and sets the ratchet stop for the spring winder.) The globe is then turned one revolution upon the base. A coin is then placed within the slot where it remains undeposited. Upon pressing the lever, the globe, with the clown astride, spins and the coin falls into the base. When the spinning ceases, the small button beneath the clown's backside may then be pressed downward — whereupon the clown performs a hand stand for his audience!
     Coin removal comprises the only casting variation of Clown on Globe. On some banks the coins are removed by way of a round Stevens-type coin trap underneath the base. On others which do not have this coin opening, the base must be unscrewed entirely in order to retrieve the money. Thus far, this writer can offer no plausible explanation for this variation, since it does not provide a more practical or simplified alternative to coin extraction.
     The Clown on Globe had been painted several color combinations. However, these pertain solely to the clown's costume and the base of the bank. The clown's gloves and face are always white with red markings. His lips are painted red, and the color of his eyes are light blue with black pupils; his eyelashes and eyebrows are black. The globe is dark blue with either a wide gold or white band circumscribing its equator.
     The colors of the bank pictured in Figure II are as follows: the clown's hat is tan with a red brim. He has a violet shirt with yellow buttons and a light blue collar. His knickers are orange, and he has white knee socks with black shoes. The support piece between his hands is red with light blue highlights. Finally, the base, its feet, and lever are painted light yellow, highlighted in light blue.
     The clown's costume may vary from the aforemen­tioned colors to being painted entirely red with a yellow collar and tan shoes. This color combination usually accompanies a tan base with reddish-brown highlights.
     Although the Clown on Globe is a fairly sturdy bank, due to the excessive handling required for its operation it is most often found damaged and with much paint wear. Those parts of the bank which are most susceptible to breakage are the clown's wrists, the operating lever, and any or all of the small feet supporting the base. Unfortunately, one cannot truly appreciate the Clown on Globe's true splendor unless seen with most of its paint intact. Thus, when one is offered in superb condition, it is generally accompanied by a premium price tag.
     Figure III represents a page from an early J. and E. Stevens Company toy catalog, advertising the Clown on Globe as the "Funny Clown Bank." The reason for the present name designation was an attempt by twentieth-century mechanical bank collectors to more accurately describe this bank by its physical appearance rather than its subject matter.
     The Clown on Globe has been reproduced several times over the years. Figure IV is a base diagram of an original. A reproduction will appear approximately one-eighth inch smaller across the base than indicated.

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