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The Spring-Jawed Rabbit
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine September, 1996

     An exciting new discovery within the elusive series of mechanicals referred to as "Spring-Jaws" is the "Rabbit," as shown in Figure I. Not only does our rabbit have the distinction of being one of nine creatures to comprise this scarce group, it is also a subject rarely portrayed in any category of mechanical banks. To be precise, only four examples feature the image of a rabbit... Surprising, since the number of different mechanicals exceeds 600, and also in view of the appeal and popularity of the animal with children.
     The "Spring-Jawed Rabbit" reflects the quality and artistry evident in most German handicrafts manufactured during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is apparent, as well, in the other members of the "Spring-Jaws" series. These include "Alligator" (refer to Antique Toy World, October 1987), "Bonzo" (October 1988), "Kitten" (November 1989), "Bulldog" (June 1990), "Mule" (February 1991), "Parrot" (July 1991), "Chimpanzee" (January 1992) and "Penguin: (August 1992).
     There is scant information pertaining to either the manufacturer or exact date of production of members of the aforementioned grouping. Fortunately, however, the country of origin has been revealed by the word "GERMANY" printed underneath several of the bases. It may be assumed that the lack of pertinent data relating to the "Spring-Jaws" series was the result of early patent laws existing in Germany. To reiterate the explanation provided in previous articles, products designated as nonessential were classified as "D.R.G.M." (Deutsches Reichs Gebrauchs Muster), meaning second-grade patents. The routine practice of Germany's patent office to discard these patents after 15 years created the present-day lack of factual information.
     Operation of the "Spring-Jawed Rabbit" is uncomplicated. A coin is inserted through the slot in the back of the head, thus activating a thin internal steel leaf spring attached to the rabbit's lower jaw. The result is a "wiggling" action, and the illusion of ingested coins being nibbled upon. Deposits are removed by undoing a small, brass heart-shaped "trick lock" beneath the jaw, enabling the rabbit's hinged head to be opened.
     The entire "Spring Jaws" series is composed of zinc-lead alloy. The low melting point of these metals makes it an ideal medium for the slush-mold casting process. This method of production entailed filling a multi-sectional hollow mold with the molten alloy. As the hot, liquefied metal cooled and solidified against the inside walls of the mold, the remaining hot solution was quickly expelled. Once fully cooled, the mold was separated, revealing a perfectly detailed, hollow positive image of its interior.
     Needless to say, extreme care should be exercised when handling any zinc-alloy bank. Their eggshell-thin casting and fragile nature make them susceptible to damage, and may alone account for the rarity of the "Spring-Jaws" mechanical banks.
     The "Rabbit" (Figure I) and the "Penguin" share the spotlight as the rarest of the group, since there is only one known example of each. Nevertheless, the "Parrot," "Mule," "Chimpanzee," and "Bulldog" assume second place, with only a handful of these in collections.
     To my knowledge, no member of the "Spring- Jaws" clan has been reproduced. However, Figure II is an outline drawing of the "Rabbit" to aid the collector in determining its size and scale.
     Acknowledgement: The superb example of "Spring-Jawed Rabbit" (Figure I) is from the collection of Frank and Joyce Kidd of Portland, Ore.
     Note: Information regarding the whereabouts of any "Spring- Jaws" bank, especially undocumented, or "new subjects, is greatly appreciated and will be passed along to readers of future articles. Please send photos to Sy Schreckinger, P.O. Box 104, East Rockaway, NY 11518.
     Omissions: (from November, 1996) (1) Operating instructions for the "Mason Bank" (refer to Antique Toy World, September 1996) were erroneously omitted: The rabbit is an overall dark reddish brown, with tan and white highlights. The tips of its ears and nose are black, and it has light tan eyes with black pupils. The inside of its mouth is pink, and it has two white teeth.
     Correction: (from January, 1997) Descriptive colors of the "Spring Jawed Rabbit" (Antique Toy World, September 1996) were erroneously omitted: The rabbit is an overall dark reddish brown, with tan and white highlights. The tips of its ears and its nose are black, and it has light tan eyes with black pupils. The inside of its mouth is pink, and it has two white teeth.

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