Ybarra Olive Oil Cottage Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – March, 2010
CANNOT DISPUTE THe fact that the most effective means of advertising new
products, goods, and services is through creative and persuasive
Entrepreneurs of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were
no exception to this newly developed form of "introductory
merchandising". No surface was ignored or rejected as a canvas for their
messages. Included were posters, billboards, newspapers, magazines,
articles of clothing, banners, sides of buildings, trade cards, as well
as "giveaway" samples such as sad irons, string holders, match safes,
toys, etc. The subject of this article, the "YBARRA Olive Oil Cottage
Bank" is one such example of a toy utilized as a merchandising tool.
Seen in Figure 1, the "YBARRA Olive Oil Cottage Bank" is but one of a
series of five known mechanical banks displaying similar materials and
manufacture. Each utilizes a carved or turned wood, movable figure
adjoining a colorfully lithographed cardboard edifice. Other members of
the group include: "Easter Bunny Cottage Bank", "Santa Claus Cottage
Bank", "Woman With Dog Cottage Bank" and "Woman Cottage Bank".
"YBARRA Cottage Bank" as well as its brethren, was produced in
Germany/Saxony during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Its lineage was derived from the letters D.R.G.M. followed by the digits
989429 imprinted upon the facade of the bank. Such wordage is indicative
of items patented in Germany/Saxony during the latter portion of the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The letters "D.R.G.M." refer
to a "German Patent of Non-Essential Items" such as toys. Patent papers
for these items were, as per government-mandate, destroyed after fifteen
years. Unfortunately, these papers were the only accurate and reliable
sources containing significant and valuable historical data.
The discovery, however, of an advertisement within an issue of the
German newspaper "Der Globus" (Figure 2), circa 1928, was quite
informative. The ad featured a mechanical bank remarkably similar in
design and action to our subject. The manufacturer-distributor of that
mechanical was indicated to have been Robert Kaden, thus possibly
providing, unknown information regarding the creation of "YBARRA Olive
The advertisement, as translated from German into English, reads: "New!
A good sales article is my Savings Bank House, with moveable figure,
which throws the coin automatically, made of strong, pressed cardboard
with lock. Unbreakable. D.R.G.M. Nr 989429. For sample send 0.80 Mark in
stamps. Exclusive manufacturer: Robert Kaden, village of
Niedernenschonberg, Post Office, Olbernhau in Saxony."
Of interest and worthy of mention are the circumstances that might
possibly have led to the creation of the "Cottage" series of
mechanicals. During that time a cottage-home-based industry was
flourishing in the Erzgebirge mountain region of Germany Entire families
were engaged in the carving, turning and hand painting of small,
whimsical wooden figures. These charming, colorful toy characters were
ultimately supplied to local toy manufacturers and distributors. Because
of their simplistic construction, costs for figurines were extremely
reasonable. Distributors and/or manufacturers were, thus, able to
incorporate these into their own inexpensive seasonal and advertising
novelty items. "YBARRA Olive Figure 3 Oil Cottage Bank", (Figure 1) is
an example of one such composite. Represented is an Erzgebirge-carved
and painted wooden woman's figure, together with a colorfully
lithographed, cardboard cottage (presumably manufactured by Robert Kaden).
Operation of "YBARRA Cottage Bank" is simplistic and effective. A coin
is placed in the woman's tin tray. This additional weight causes the
figure to rotate clockwise, resulting in deposition of the coin through
the provided slot in front of the mechanical.
Monies are recovered by opening a tin, trap door type key lock coin
retainer at the rear of the bank. Since the wording upon the roof and
base of the "YBARRA Cottage" (Figure 3) is entirely in Spanish, one must
assume the mechanical was intended for sale to the Hispanic market. The
following is a translation of the advertising wordage: "YBARRA PURE
OLIVE OIL. GUARANTEED PURE. DEPOSIT A SILVER COIN ON THE DISH AND SAVE.
USE IT WHEN YOU GO TO THE MARKET TO BUY OUR PRODUCT."
"YBARRA Olive Oil Cottage" is extremely rare, with a mere two examples
known to exist. Such mechanicals, i.e. those produced of lithographed
cardboard and wood, when subjected to youthful mishandling, moisture and
the ravages of time, were severely damaged or destroyed. It is only upon
rare occasions today that fully intact examples composed of these type
materials are discovered.
Despite its simple, modest construction and miniscule size (Height: 4
inches; Width: 3-3/8 inches; Depth: 2-5/16 inches), "YBARRA Cottage" is
an attractive and welcome addition to a mechanical bank collection.
Acknowledgement: Copies and translation of the Robert Kaden
advertisement (Figure 2) were generously provided by fellow collectors
and historians, Harald and Uli Merklein of Ntirtzbetg, Germany.