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,
' 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
" '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
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 making a costly
mistake. A reproduction will appear approximately one-sixteenth to
one-eighth of an inch shorter than the size indicated.