by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – July, 2011
OUR SUBJECT, this article,
features the image of a frog, bearing testimony to the majesty of Mother
Nature. Who, after all, could create a more appropriate creature to
grace a penny savings bank?
During the latter portion of the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, this whimsical, cavernous-mouthed amphibian proved to be a
popular subject for the plethora of mechanical banks produced in this
country and abroad. Included among those penny gobblers were: "Professor
Pug Frog's Great Bicycle Feat", "Chief Big Moon", "Goat, Frog and Old
Man", "Initiating Bank, First Degree", "Two Frogs", "Frog on Rock",
"Snake and Frog In Pond", "Flip the Frog", "Frog on Arched Track", and,
our focus of discussion, "Gwenda Money Box" (Figure 1).
To date, there is scant information pertaining to the
manufacturer of "Gwenda Money Box". This is attributed to a lack of
advertising and catalog data. Fortunately, however, much of the bank's
heritage is revealed by the following words exhibited on the mechanicals
facade: Gwenda MONEY BOX, MADE IN ENGLAND, PROV. PAT. 2628/36" (refer to
Of interest is the fact that "Gwenda Money Box"
is one of a few select "antique" mechanical banks. Its action is
dependent solely upon an electric current produced by a flashlight
battery. (Other members of this group include "Wireless Bank" "Statue of
Liberty Bank" and "Small Lighthouse Bank".)
Figure 2 represents a view of the inside top
cover and battery-powered mechanism of the "Gwenda" bank. Figure 3 (the
obverse of Figure 2) represents the face of "Gwenda" with its light bulb
Action of "Gwenda Money Box" is uncomplicated,
entertaining and effective. A coin is placed within the slot located
below "Gwenda's" mouth. Upon insertion, its light bulb eyes "light up";
as the coin descends within the bank, the bulbs automatically "turn
off". Deposits are removed by gently prying the top cover (i.e. "Gwenda's"
face) from the cylindrical body of the bank.
Aside from the humorous depiction of the frog's
face on its top cover, "Gwenda's" appeal to children is further enhanced
by the colorful display of a few fairy tale images embracing the sides
of the bank. "Red Riding Hood" is seen in Figure 4, "Little Bo Peep" in
Figure 5, and, lastly, Humpty Dumpty is seen in Figure 6.
"Gwenda Money Box" is composed primarily of
brightly lithographed tinplate. The exceptions are its glass eye bulbs
and an inner cardboard insulation disk (refer to Figure 2).
Despite its simplistic design and diminutive
size (Height: 3-5/8 inches. Diameter: 3 inches), "Gwenda Money Box" is
an attractive and extremely desirable addition to a mechanical bank
collection. It is considered quite rare, with only a handful of
completely original and operational examples known to reside on the
shelves of a few fortunate collectors.
Acknowledgment: The fine example of "Gwenda
Money Box" (Figure 1) is in the collection of Bob Weiss.