Monkey and Parrot
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – August, 2007
Colorful, attractive and amusing is the "Monkey
and Parrot" tin-plate mechanical bank. Seen in Figure 1, this mechanical
features a playful monkey and its multi-colored feathered friend.
The prankish primate, a long-time popular entertainer at circuses and
zoos, has always delighted youngsters of all ages. It is no surprise that,
during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, several toy
manufacturers incorporated the likeness of the monkey into no less than
eighteen mechanical banks. Notable examples include: Hubley's "Monkey
Bank"; Kyser and Rex's "Chimpanzee", "Organ With Boy and Girl", "Organ
With Cat and Dog", "Organ Tiny", "Lion and Monkeys", "Zoo Bank"; J. and E.
Stevens' "Hall's Excelsior", "Rival", "Monkey and Coconut", and the
subject of this article, Saalheimer and Strauss' "Monkey and Parrot" Bank
"Monkey and Parrot" is one of a series of three tin-plate
mechanicals, all utilizing an identical coin delivery mechanism. Other
members of the trio are "Flip the Frog" Bank (Figure 2) and "Clown and
Dog" Bank (Figure 3). They also were manufactured during the early
twentieth century by Saalheimer and Strauss Tin Works of Nurnberg,
Germany. During the years 1900 through 1930, Germany was the world's
leading tin-plate producer; Saalheimer and Strauss was considered to be
one of the foremost manufacturers of tin-plate mechanical banks and sundry
Figure 4 represents a page from an early Saalheimer and Strauss
wholesale toy catalog. Its discovery provided hitherto unavailable
information pertaining to the manufacture of "Monkey and Parrot", and
other tin mechanicals in the company's inventory. "Monkey and Parrot", as
well as the two other aforementioned members of the series, were unique
within the company's line. All of the three utilized a curved track
through which a spring activated coin was propelled up and around an arch,
and into the provided coin slot.
Action of the "Monkey and Parrot" is relatively complex. Impressed
into the facade, and above the monkey's tail, are the words: "Put Money
Here". Operation of the bank is initiated by placing a coin, as
instructed, followed by depressing the lever located at the left side of
the bank. While the lever continues to be held in place, the monkey tilts
forward, causing the coin to roll from its tail along its back and onto
its open paw. As the coin reaches the monkey's paw the parrot opens its
beak. Upon release of the lever, the coin exits the monkey's paw and is
rapidly thrust up and along the curved track, whereupon it enters the
parrot's gaping mouth. The beak then closes over the coin, depositing it
within the bank.
Interestingly, precisely when the lever is depressed, an internal
bellows-activated squeaker located within the mechanical emits a
parrot-like squawk, as if being uttered by the bird itself. The sound
provides an additional comical accent to the bank's humorous action.
Deposits are recovered by opening a key-lock, trap door style coin
retainer, located underneath the base of the bank.
To my knowledge, neither "Monkey and Parrot" nor any mechanical
manufactured by Saalheimer and Strauss has been reproduced. However, this does not preclude the possibility of restoration in
the form of a reproduced replacement segment of the bank. Needless to say,
in such instances monetary value is compromised accordingly.
Despite its tinplate construction and diminutive size (Height: 6
inches, Width: 3-1/2 inches), "Monkey and Parrot" is a most desirable
enhancement to a mechanical bank collection.
Acknowledgement: the superb example "Monkey and Parrot" bank, Figure
1, is in the collection of Bob Weiss.