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Gwenda Money Box
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 Figure 1).
     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 eyes.
     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.

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