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
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
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.