by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – July, 2007
A most commanding denizen of the jungle is the
formidable tiger. Belying its ferocity, however, is its docile image,
depicted in the mechanical bank chosen as the subject of this article.
"Tiger Bank", seen in Figure 1, is acknowledged to be one of a series
of eight different tinplate mechanical banks. Others in the group are:
"Bear", "English Bulldog", "British Lion", "Harold Lloyd", "African
Native", "Clown", and "Golliwog".
All of these are alleged to have been manufactured by the Saalheimer
and Strauss Tin Works of Nurenberg, Germany. This company was,
indisputably, the foremost designer and producer of tinplate mechanical
banks during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The skill
and artistry demonstrated by its colorful, embossed tinplate creations
remain unrivaled to this day.
To date, neither patent papers nor manufacturers'
catalogs specifically illustrating "Tiger Bank" have been located.
However, many of its overall features, construction, and action are
similar to other lithographed tinplate mechanicals created by Saalheimer
Figure 2 represents two pages from a Saalheimer and Strauss catalog,
circa 1900-1935, in which several mechanicals are offered for sale. The
similarities between "Tiger Bank" and "British Lion", "Harold Lloyd",
"English Bulldog" and "African Native" appear undeniable. In addition, the
catalog pages identify the aforementioned as "part of a series of six
different subjects, produced with or without movement" (i.e. mechanical
and still bank versions). This contradicts my earlier statement, however,
that eight different subjects from the group have been identified in
collections. Perhaps two additional mechanical banks were produced by
Saalheimer and Strauss subsequent to the printing of the catalog pages
seen in Figure 2.
Operation of "Tiger Bank" is initiated by depressing the wire lever
located behind the left I side of the tiger's head. Simultaneously, the
jaw lowers and the tongue protrudes. A coin is then placed upon the
extended tongue, followed by the release of the lever. The tongue, now
carrying the coin, snaps back into the bank and the jaw returns to its
original position, as seen in Figure 1. Deposits are retrieved by opening
a sliding coin retainer that covers the top of the bank's rectangular coin
Interestingly, several of the aforementioned mechanicals were not
marketed solely as coin banks, but were also intended to be candy
containers. These banks were originally supplied with coin boxes
containing "Lyons' Toffee". Such examples were identifiable by Lyons'
Toffee advertising on their obverse (refer to Figure 3). In addition, the
candy containers/ mechanical banks did not utilize the key lock coin
retainers. Removal of deposited coins or toffee would simply require
sliding off the top cover. However the mechanicals intended solely as coin
savings devices (those without Lyons' Toffee advertising) were provided
with key lock, sliding coin retainers that require an actual key in order
to open the bank.
To my knowledge, there are no reproductions of any Saalheimer and
Strauss mechanical banks. However, this does not preclude the possibility
of reproduced replacement parts. Needless to say, in such an instance the
value of the bank would be compromised.
Although all members of the aforementioned series are rare, "Tiger
Bank" boasts of being one of the rarest. Despite its tinplate construction
and diminutive size, i.e. Height: 5-1/4 inches, Width: 3 inches, "Tiger
Bank" is an extremely attractive and highly desirable addition to a
mechanical bank collection.
Acknowledgement: The superb example of "Tiger Bank" (Figure 1) is in
the collection of Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck.