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Cottage Bank with Woman and Logs
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine July, 2012

     THIS ARTICLE'S CHOSEN subject is a distinguished member of a prominent category of mechanical banks. Commonly referred to as "building banks", it is composed of mechanicals that either utilize a structure as the subject of the bank or those that incorporate a dwelling into its design.
     Examples of the former include "Magic Bank", "Novelty Bank" and "Wireless Bank", while examples of those belonging to the latter group include such notables as "Dog on Turntable", "Woman at the Treasure Pump", "Uncle Remus Bank", and our subject, "Cottage Bank With Woman and Logs" (Figure 1). A product of German manufacture, "Cottage Bank With Woman and Log?, depicts a wooden figure of a woman depositing coins into a wooden cottage building.
     While mechanical bank designers within the United States utilized cast iron to produce their creations, European craftsmen proved to be diverse in their selection of materials. Mechanicals created from tin plate, zinc alloy, wood and lithographed cardboard filled the shelves of toy and novelty shops throughout the continent. Europe's major producers were located in Saxony, Germany.
     "Cottage Bank With Woman and Logs" is one of a series of six known mechanicals of similar design, composition and construction. Each utilizes a carved or turned wood movable figure adjoining a colorfully lithographed cardboard or wood cottage-type dwelling. Other members of the group include "Easter Bunny Cottage Bank", "Santa's Christmas Savings House", "Cottage Bank With Woman", "Cottage Bank Woman With Dog" and "Ybarra Olive Oil Cottage Bank". "Cottage Bank With Woman and Logs", as well as its companions, was produced in Saxony, Germany during the early twentieth century. Its lineage was procured from the letters "D.R.G.M." (i.e. "Registered German Design") 989429 printed upon a section of each of the banks. Seen in Figure 2 is a copy of an early German Patent indicating our subject's date of registration and its designers: i.e. "April 27, 1927. Designed by Robert
Kaden and Emil Kaden of Saxony, Germany". The patent additionally indicates the bank has "a movable figure, and is composed of sturdy paper board". It also refers to "an expiration date of June 20, 1930".
     The discovery of an advertisement within an issue of the German newspaper "Der Globus" (Figure 3) circa June 2, 1928, was also quite  informative. Its translation from Pigun German into English
reads as follows: "A first class Selling Hit is the small mechanical savings house. Made of solid wood with secure lock and key. Samples quickly supplied for 1.00 Mark or 1.20 Mark cash. Exclusive Manufacturer: W. Ernst Meinel, Dresden A.1/G. Grobe Zwingerstr.9."
     Supposedly, although Robert and Emil Kaden owned the patent for the Cottage series of banks, other producers of mechanical banks (e.g. W. Ernst Meinel) were utilizing its design in their own line of goods. Possibly, the Kadens were paid a royalty for its usage.
     Of interest and worthy of mention is the circumstance that feasibly led to the creation of the "Cottage" series of mechanicals. During this period a cottage/home-based industry was flourishing in the Erzgebirge mountain region of Germany. Here, entire families were engaged in the carving and hand painting of small, whimsical wooden figures. These were ultimately supplied to local toy and novelty manufacturers, such as Robert Kaden and W. Ernst Meinel. Because of their simplicity of construction the cost for figurines was extremely reasonable, enabling distributors and/or manufacturers to incorporate these into their own inexpensive holiday goods and seasonal novelties. "Cottage Bank With Woman and Logs", seen in Figure 1, is an example of one such composite. Represented is an Erzgebirge-carved wooden figure of a woman, together with a lithographed paper-clad wooden cottage bank manufactured by W. Ernst Meinel.
     Operation of "Cottage Bank With Woman and Logs" is simplistic and effective. A coin is placed upon the woman's tin tray. Its added weight causes the figure to rotate towards the right side, resulting in deposition of the coin through the provided slot in front of the cottage. Coins are recovered by opening a tin, key lock, trap door type coin retainer in the rear of the building.
     The entire "Cottage Bank " series is quite rare. This is not surprising when one considers the fragility of their components (i.e. wood and paper) as well as an age of over one hundred years.
     Despite simplistic construction and miniscule size (Height: 4-1/4 inches. Width: 3-1/2 inches. Depth: 3-5/8 inches), "Cottage Bank With Woman and Logs" is an attractive and important addition to a mechanical bank collection.
     To conclude, "Cottage Bank Arched Roof With Woman" (Figure 4), "Cottage Bank With Woman and Dog" (Figure 5), and "Cottage Bank With Woman" (Figure 6) represent additional variations of our subject of discussion. Manufacturers would, occasionally, "mix and match" various small Erzgebirge carved wooden figures or objects in order to refresh and add interest to their products.
     Acknowledgments: The fine example "Cottage Bank With Woman and Logs" (Figure 1) is housed in the Kidd Toy Museum Collection, Frank and Joyce Kidd proprietors.
     Copies of the German Patent Document (Figure 21. the W. Ernst Meinel. Cottage Bank
advertisement (Figure Si, and their translation were generously provided by fellow collectors and historians, Harald and We Merklein of Niirnberg, Germany.

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