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