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The Red Riding Hood
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – July, 1988

 ". . . Little Red found the door to her grandma's cottage open.
        "She entered and called, 'Good morning, Grandma.
        ' There was no answer. Then she went
to the bed;
        there lay her grandmother with her cap pulled over
        her eyes, so that she looked very
      " 'Oh, Grandma, what big ears you have!'
" 'The better to hear you with, my dear!' "
        " 'Oh, Grandma, what big eyes you have!'
        " 'The better to see you with, my dear!'
        " 'Oh, Grandma, what big hands you have!'
        " 'The better to hold you with, my dear!'
        " 'But, Grandma, what big teeth you have!'
        " 'All the better to eat you with, my dear!' " 

     It is at this precise moment, according to the fable, that Little Red Riding Hood first senses imminent danger. And it is that very moment which is captured in the "Red Riding Hood" mechanical bank (Figure I). Insert a coin into the slot located behind the pillow and press the lever. Simultaneously, the coin drops into the bank and grandma's face mask tilts forward, exposing the face of the wicked wolf. Little Red Riding Hood's head jerks backward, as if startled. (The coins are removed via a key lock trap underneath the base.)
     Ludwig and Wilhelm Grimm, two German scholars and collectors of tutonic fables, published their anthology of children's fairy tales, the "Kinder—und Hansmdarchen," around the year 1813. It included the fable of Little Red Riding Hood. Approximately seventy-five years later, around the year 1888, this awesome fairy tale was brought to life through the creation of the "Red Riding Hood" me­chanical bank. Unfortunately, to date, patent and/or printed documentation pertinent to the designer and/or manufacturer has not been found. However, it had been speculated, but cannot be substantiated, that the designer of this mechanical may have been a William S. Reed of Leominster, Massachusetts. Possibly Reed was associated with the "Red Riding Hood" bank, since he had designed and received a patent for the "Old Woman in the Shoe" bank (Figure II), which had been based upon the popular nursery rhyme.
     Another belief is that the J. and E. Stevens Company may have designed and manufactured the bank. This is based upon observed casting detail similarities between “Red Riding Hood” and toys manufactured by Stevens.
     To complicate the matter further, this writer theorizes that, possibly, the Kyser and Rex Company, of Frankford, Pennsylvania, designed and manufactured this bank. Speculation is based upon two factors: (1) similarities between the simplistic style in which Little Red Riding Hood's features were painted, as compared to the faces of the organ grinder in the Kyser and Rex "Organ and Bear" bank and the policeman in their "Uncle Remus" bank; and, (2) J. and E. Stevens Company had never manufactured a mechanical bank with a key-lock coin trap, while almost all of the Kyser and Rex banks utilize such a trap. In addition, the unique shape of the "Little Red Riding Hood" coin trap is remarkably similar in configuration to the coin traps of two other Kyser and Rex banks, namely the "Confectionary" and the "Presto Building" (Figure M). The colors of the bank represented in Figure I are as follows: Little Red's face is a pink flesh color; she has blond hair and eyebrows, black eyes, and a red mouth. Her hat and dress are red and she wears a white sleeveless slipover blouse. The basket held in the crook of her right arm is tan. Grandma's face is a pink flesh color; she has black eyes and eyebrows, red nostrils, and a red mouth. She wears a white, ruffled bed cap on her head. The wolf's face and paw are painted a light brown. He has orange eyes with black pupils and a red mouth. The blanket draped over the bed is light green with gold and copper highlights. The pillow is white and the entire bed frame is japanned a dark brown with gold highlighting. Known paint variations pertain solely to the blanket, whereby it can be painted either dark blue or yellow. A variation in casting concerns itself with the way in which the wolfs paw is holding the mask. The words, "PAT APLD FOR" are impressed into the underside of all known "Red Riding Hood" banks.
     This mechanical is extremely rare. Since it has been reproduced, the base diagram (Figure IV) should help in determining originality, and possibly prevent one from mak
ing a costly mistake. A reproduction will appear approximately one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch shorter than the size indicated.

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