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European Tin 


Monkey with Tray - Tin
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine July, 2010

     THE OFT-SPOKEN PHRASES "monkey shines" and "as much fun as a barrel of' monkeys" sum up
our perception of these playful primates. Their antics amuse and delight children of all ages, as evidenced by the gleeful faces at circuses and zoos.
     The appeal of the mischievous monkey was the incentive for several toy manufacturers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to produce mechanical banks that reflected its image. Examples include Hubley's "Monkey Bank", Kyser and Rex's "Chimpanzee", "Organ Medium", "Organ Boy and
Girl", "Organ Cat and Dog", "Organ Tiny", "Lion and Monkeys", and "Zoo Bank", as well as J. and E. Stevens' "Hall's Excelsior", "Rival Bank", and "Monkey and Coconut". Our subject, the colorful and amusing "Monkey With Tray" mechanical bank (Figure 1), was manufactured by Maienthau and Wolff.
     Located in Nurnberg, Germany, then the center of European tinplate toy and metalware production, Maienthau and Wolff was one of the most important German manufacturer/distributor of tinplate items. The mechanical represented in Figure 1 is believed to be the only tinplate mechanical bank to have been produced by the company. Represented in Figure 2 is an advertisement in the firm's wholesale toy catalog, circa 1908. It features an illustration of the mechanical and the following descriptive: Number 5785 11 Monkey The cash morsels go automatically into its mouth, 8 centimeters long, 16 centimeters high, decorated, per Piece . Mk. .84"
      Activation of the mechanical (Figure 1) is achieved by following the instructive verse printed upon the top platform of the base: "Place a coin upon my plate, gently press my tail Then wait, up will go my hands you see. And that coin goes inside me.". Deposits are removed by opening the key lock coin retainer located at the bottom portion of the bank.
     Figure 3 represents another catalog advertisement which is attributed to Nerlich & Company, circa 1910-1911. In it is pictured our featured mechanical; however, this company had changed the bank's title to "Automatic Monkey Bank". This firm's ad also includes operational instructions: "Large size monkey on pedestal, coin is placed in the plate and after pressing lever is conveyed to the monkey's mouth which opens to receive it, fitted with lock and key, handsomely lithographed in colors, height 6-1/2 inches. 1 dozen in package, Doz. $4.00."
     There are two variations of "Monkey With Tray" bank. These pertain solely to its exterior design and colors. Figure 1 depicts the monkey as a zoo dweller, whereas Figure 4 portrays it as a denizen of the circus.
     Because a multitude of examples of "Monkey With Tray" inhabit numerous collections, the mechanical is not considered rare. Nonetheless, acquiring one in almost mint condition could prove quite a challenge.
     I am not aware of any reproduced early German tinplate mechanicals. However, the following dimensions of "Monkey With Tray" are given as an aid to collectors in determining the bank's size and scale: Height: 6-1/2 inches. Width: 2-5/16 inches, Depth: 3-1/4 inches.
     On a final note, although "Monkey With Tray" is small in size and composed entirely of tinplate, its desirability is not diminished. It is an extremely attractive and welcome addition to a mechanical bank collection.
Acknowledgments: The superb example "Monkey With Tray" Bank (Figure 1) is in the collection of Bob Weiss.
Copies of the Maienthau and Wolff catalog pages (Figure 2) were provided by fellow collectors and historians. Harald and tili Merklein of Niirnberg, Germany.

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