by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – February, 2006
Humorous, colorful and whimsical is the creation
pictured in Figure 1. The somewhat ludicrous result of the mating of
pelican and parrot is depicted as subject "Tin Cockatoo" mechanical bank.
It appears that this mechanical yielded to the fantasy of its
creator, and is but one in a category of ornithological anomalies.
Notables include "Pelican, Man Thumbs Nose" series of banks (Antique Toy
World, February 2003), "Bird on Roof" (ATW,
December 1984) and "Owl Slot
in Book" (ATW, January 1990).
Totally devoid of any identifying markings, the origin
of "Tin Cockatoo" would have remained an enigma. However, a wholesale toy
catalog of the Emil Hausmann Company of Nurenberg, Germany, circa 1928,
was discovered. In it was pictured "Tin Cockatoo", thus revealing its
heritage. Patent records are nonexistent due to then-prevailing German law
dictating the routine destruction of "unimportant patents" such as toys
after a period of fifteen years.
The Emil Hausmann Company engaged in the design and distribution of
tinplate goods. Most of its items were jobbed out to several local German
manufacturers for production. It is interesting that "Tin Cockatoo" was
the lone mechanical pictured in the Hausmann catalog; perhaps it was the
company's only attempt at bank design. There is, however, another
mechanical, namely "Nodding Dog", Figure 2, (Antique Toy World,
2005) that is purported to have been produced by that firm. The assumption
is based solely upon similar action, and artful, colorful hand painted
Operation of "Cockatoo" is initiated by depressing the bird's rounded
crest feather. This action opens its beak (Figure 3), and thus exposes the
coin slot, through which the money is then inserted. Upon release of the
crest feather the coin is deposited within its body, whereupon the head
and upper beak simultaneously assume a nodding/chewing motion.
The aforementioned "Nodding Dog" operates in a comparable manner:
upon deposition of a coin in the canine's back, its head nods. Both
mechanicals (Figures 1 and 2) utilize a similar counter balance rocking
action mechanism involving their heads.
Coins deposited in "Tin Cockatoo" Bank are recovered by opening a
tinplate, key-lock, trap door type coin retainer located underneath the
bank (Figure 4). A Boasting of only a few original examples in
collections, "Tin Cockatoo" has achieved the designation "extremely rare".
It is not difficult to explain its scarcity. With flimsy tinplate
construction, combined with an exceptionally fragile mechanism, it is
surprising that any complete example has endured the ravages of time.
"Tin Cockatoo" is diminutive in size, as seen in Figure 4, with a
height of 5-3/4 inches. Nonetheless, it is an attractive and interesting
addition to a collection of mechanical banks.
The "Tin Cockatoo" has not, to my knowledge, been reproduced.
However, due to its fragility, there is the possibility of restored and/or
replaced parts. In such an instance, limited professional conservation may
be acceptable without significant devaluation.
Acknowledgement: The fine, all original example of "Tin Cockatoo"
Bank, Figure 1, nests comfortably in the collection of Bob Weiss.
Update: New information pertaining to "Nodding Bank" (refer to
Antique Toy World, October 2005) has recently come to my attention.
Firstly, Mr. John Haley, fellow collector and European Money Box
historian, has informed me that this mechanical bank is a depiction of an
actual canine. "Paddington Jack" was a heroic St. Bernard adopted as
mascot of the Paddington Train Station in London, England. A bronze effigy
of "Jack" stands guard at the station entrance.
Secondly, I've been made aware of another "Nodding Dog Bank". This
example exhibits an original paper nametag affixed to its collar. The
following inscription is imprinted upon the tag: "Paddington Jack, Thank