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The Rabbit in Cabbage Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – May, 1990

      “Charming” and “petite” best describe the "Rabbit in Cabbage" mechanical bank. Portraying the classic image of a small rabbit with its nose nestled between the leaves of succulent cabbage, the bank as shown in Figure I, is quite reminiscent of the illustrious Beatrix Potter's Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and Tales of Peter Rabbit, published in 1909.
     Although there has been no previous mention of the similarities between Ms. Potter's tales of the Flopsy Bunnies and the mischievous Peter Rabbit with his insatiable appetite for Mr. McGregor's cabbages and the "Rabbit in Cabbage" mechanical bank, mere coincidence appears unlikely. Perhaps it was Ms. Potter's delightful illustrations (Figure II) that captivated Ms. M. Elizabeth Cook, a highly acclaimed artist and sculptress in her own right, and prompted her to design "Rabbit in Cabbage."
     Unfortunately, to date, no patent information has been located; however, pertinent data relating to this mechanical, as well as three others designed by Ms. Cook, have been obtained through advertisements and catalogs and place the date of their manufacture sometime between 1920 and 1934.
     Ms. Cook's banks were produced by the Kilgore Manufacturing Company of Westerville, Ohio. The four were collectively referred to, in Kilgore ads and catalogs, as "The Thrifty Four". and "The Toytown Workers Group." They were christened "Blinky," the owl; "Jug-O-Rum," the frog; "Pokey," the turtle; and "Flop Ears," the rabbit. Not only is "Pokey" the rarest of the four, but it has the distinction of being one of the rarest in the entire mechanical bank category. This may be explained by the fact that, at the time of its manufacture, the Kilgore Company was experiencing a great deal of difficulty resolving an internal malfunction. This resulted in the removal of "Pokey" from production, and the few remaining working examples were distributed amongst the employees of Kilgore, free of charge.
     Unlike most mechanical banks of the period which were packaged in individual wooden boxes, each of "The Thrifty Four" were sold in individual cardboard boxes (Figure III). The container designated for "Flop Ears," the rabbit, Figure III, has the following poems inscribed upon its side:

          "Flop-Ears the Rabbit hops around
          Lifting his ears for every sound
          He sees Blinky the Owl, high in an Oak
          And hears the Frog, Jug-O-Rum croak,
          And wonders if Pokey, the Turtle, so slow,
          Can catch up with him, if he hops real slow."
          "Flop-Ears the thoughtful Rabbit says,
          'Get the saving habit.' "

     Activation of "Flop Ears" is achieved by pressing a coin into the slot behind its ears. This accomplished, the ears will raise slightly and then drop as the coin falls into the bank. The deposited monies are removed by opening the small rectangular key-lock coin retainer underneath the base of the bank. Most often, these coin retainers are nickel plated, but original non-plated examples do exist.
     There are no casting variations of "Rabbit in Cabbage," but there are two color variations. The earlier-produced banks portrayed a light tan rabbit, much closer in coloration to Ms. Potter's Flopsy Rabbit characters. "Rabbit in Cabbage" banks manufactured at a later date had the rabbit painted a creamy white color. In both varieties, the rabbit has dark pink eyes with black pupils. The cabbage is white with an applied bright green texture that strongly defines the leaves. The base is painted a medium yellow-green with dark brown upright paint strokes around the entire perimeter of the base, representing grass or weeds. The jewel-like coloration of "Flop Ears," as well as the other members of "The Thrifty Four," make for an extremely appealing set of mechanicals.
     I am not aware of any reproductions of this series. Nevertheless, as is my custom, I am including a base diagram, Figure IV, to aid the collector in determining size and scale of the bank. If a reproduction were to surface, it most likely would appear approximately one-sixteenth of an inch shorter in length than indicated.
     CORRECTION: In the June 1989 issue of Antique Toy World, "Boy on Trapeze" article, it was mistakenly stated that no reproductions of the bank exist. This bank was indeed reproduced several years ago by the Book of Knowledge Collection, and, more recently, a very crudely reproduced "Boy on Trapeze" had been imported to the United States from Taiwan. Please note that all reproductions are at least one-eighth of an inch smaller than the base diagram in the June 1989 article indicates.

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