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Girl in Victorian Chair
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – November, 1990

      The familiar and so oft used phrase, "Good things come in small packages," most appropriately describes the mechanical bank pictured in Figure I (actual size). Spanning a height of merely four inches, the "Girl in Victorian Chair" humbly resides on the shelves of a few fortunate collectors.
     Little is known of the heritage of this tiny gem. To date, no information has surfaced relating to its designer, manufacturer or its originally designated name. Early bank collectors began referring to this mechanical as "Girl in Victorian Chair" based solely upon its appearance and as a means to distinguish it from other, similar mechanicals.
     One might assume that, because of its small size and subject matter, the bank may have been designed to appeal specifically to young girls. It is not difficult to imagine "Girl in Victorian Chair" being placed into a little girl's doll house.
     Several theories have emerged over the years relating to the designer and manufacturer of this particular mechanical. These have been based primarily upon construc­tion, design and coloration. Some credit its design to Charles A. Bailey, in view of the similarities between it and two cast-iron bell toys (i.e., "Daisy" and "Christmas Morn") which Bailey designed for manufacture by the J. and E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut. In both toys the faces of the little children bear a striking resemblance to our little friend seated in her Victorian chair.
     Others attribute its production to the W. S. Reed Toy Company of Leominster, Massachusetts. This assumption is based upon the similar design and painted element of "Girl in Victorian Chair" and the "Little Red Riding Hood" bank. Both have fringes cast into the sides of their bases which are painted a dark brown, japan color, highlighted with gold. In addition, the slot design at the tops of the bed and chair of each bank also bear a striking resemblance to one another. To complicate matters further, it should be noted that there is no conclusive evidence that the "Red Riding Hood" bank was actually manufactured by the W. S. Reed Toy Company. The supposition is based upon similarities between it and the "Old Woman in the Shoe" bank, which has been positively identified as a product of the W. S. Reed Company.
     Operation of "Girl in Victorian Chair" is quite simplistic. A coin is placed within the appropriate slot atop the chair. The small lever in the back is then moved towards the right side. Simultaneously, the small dog resting on the girl's lap moves forward and the coin falls into the bank. Retrieval of the deposited currency is achieved by disassemblement of the two halves, via a single screw through its back.
     There are no known casting variations. However, there are several color variants which all pertain to the little girl's dress and her dog. The dog could be either light or dark tan, and the child's dress may be blue or red or white. The colors of the bank pictured in Figure I are as follows: the face, arms and legs of the girl are a light pink, flesh color. She has blonde eyebrows and hair. Her eyes are dark blue, as is her dress, and her mouth is painted red. Her little dog is light tan. The chair is japanned an overall dark brown, highlighted in gold.
     The "Girl in Victorian Chair" is scarce, and few collectors can boast of an example in their collection. Rarity, coupled with simplicity of construction, were the factors contributing to replication of this fine mechanical. Figure II is a base diagram of an original "Girl in Victorian Chair" bank. A reproduction would appear approximately one-sixteenth of an inch shorter along the base than the dimension indicated.

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