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The Rooster Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – October, 1989

     The role of leadership among peers would seem unlikely in the world of mechanical banks. However, particular mechanicals are in the enviable position of being favored by collectors. Pondering the characteristics of such "favorites," one might suppose intriguing subject matter, vivid coloration, size and design would be the determining factors. In opposition to this logic is the "Rooster" mechanical bank, pictured in Figure I.
     Despite its modest coloration, subtle action and a height of merely six inches, the "Rooster" has attained popularity with today's collector. Perhaps it is because of pleasant recollections of the "good life" on a farm or, to the city dweller, a fantasy of pleasantries of such a life.
     Unfortunately, very little documentation is available pertaining to either its inventor or manufacturer. It has, however, been the supposition of mechanical bank authorities and historians that the "Rooster" was manufactured by the Kyser and Rex Company, of Frankford, Pennsylvania, one of the leading producers of cast-iron toys and mechanical banks during the period of time referred to as the "Golden Age of Banks" (i.e., late nineteenth century). The basis for this assumption is paint similarity in both color pigmentation and application techniques when compared with other authenticated Kyser and Rex banks, namely "Butting Buffalo," "Lion and Monkeys," "Organ Grinder" and "Performing Bear."
     The action of the "Rooster" bank may best be described as subtle. A coin is placed into the slot atop the tail. The lever at the end of the tail is then pressed downward. Simultaneously, the coin drops into the bank; the rooster's head and comb bob up and down, beak agape, replicating a crowing manner­ism. Retrieval of monies is achieved by unscrewing the two halves of the bank.
     Great care should be exercised when opening or disassembling this bank, since the internal parts are extremely thin and fragile, and easily damaged.
     There are neither casting nor color variations of the "Rooster." The colors of the mechanical (Figure I) are as follows: the body and tail feathers are a blackish-brown japanning, highlighted in silver and bronze. Its head and comb are painted bright red, accented with small, white spots under each eye. Its eyes are white with black pupils and a black eyebrow. Finally, the base is green, splotched with yellow and red.
     The "Rooster" mechanical bank is considered extremely common, and, in fact, numerous examples do exist. However, locating one in superb paint condition, completely original and working properly, can prove a frustrating task for even the most determined mechanical bank collector.
     To my knowledge, the "Rooster" has not been reproduced. Nonetheless, I am including a base dia­gram to aid the collector in determination of size and scale. If a reproduction were to surface, its base would appear approximately one-sixteenth of an inch shorter than the diagram indicated in Figure II.

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