Girl in Victorian Chair
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – November,
The familiar and so oft used phrase, "Good
things come in small packages," most appropriately describes the
mechanical bank pictured in Figure I (actual size). Spanning a height of
merely four inches, the "Girl in Victorian Chair" humbly resides on the
shelves of a few fortunate collectors.
Little is known of the heritage of this tiny gem. To date, no
information has surfaced relating to its designer, manufacturer or its
originally designated name. Early bank collectors began referring to this
mechanical as "Girl in Victorian Chair" based solely upon its appearance
and as a means to distinguish it from other, similar mechanicals.
One might assume that, because of its small size and subject matter,
the bank may have been designed to appeal specifically to young girls. It
is not difficult to imagine "Girl in Victorian Chair" being placed into a
little girl's doll house.
Several theories have emerged over the years relating
to the designer and manufacturer of this particular mechanical. These have
been based primarily upon construction, design and coloration. Some
credit its design to Charles A. Bailey, in view of the similarities
between it and two cast-iron bell toys (i.e., "Daisy" and "Christmas
Morn") which Bailey designed for manufacture by the J. and E. Stevens
Company of Cromwell, Connecticut. In both toys the faces of the little
children bear a striking resemblance to our little friend seated in her
Others attribute its production to the W. S. Reed Toy Company of
Leominster, Massachusetts. This assumption is based upon the similar
design and painted element of "Girl in Victorian Chair" and the "Little
Red Riding Hood" bank. Both have fringes cast into the sides of their
bases which are painted a dark brown, japan color, highlighted with gold.
In addition, the slot design at the tops of the bed and chair of each bank
also bear a striking resemblance to one another. To complicate matters
further, it should be noted that there is no conclusive evidence that the
"Red Riding Hood" bank was actually manufactured by the W. S. Reed Toy
Company. The supposition is based upon similarities between it and the
"Old Woman in the Shoe" bank, which has been positively identified as a
product of the W. S. Reed Company.
Operation of "Girl in Victorian Chair" is quite simplistic. A coin is
placed within the appropriate slot atop the chair. The small lever in the
back is then moved towards the right side. Simultaneously, the small dog
resting on the girl's lap moves forward and the coin falls into the bank.
Retrieval of the deposited currency is achieved by disassemblement of the
two halves, via a single screw through its back.
There are no known casting variations. However, there are several
color variants which all pertain to the little girl's dress and her dog.
The dog could be either light or dark tan, and the child's dress may be
blue or red or white. The colors of the bank pictured in Figure I are as
follows: the face, arms and legs of the girl are a light pink, flesh
color. She has blonde eyebrows and hair. Her eyes are dark blue, as is her
dress, and her mouth is painted red. Her little dog is light tan. The
chair is japanned an overall dark brown, highlighted in gold.
The "Girl in Victorian Chair" is scarce, and few collectors can boast
of an example in their collection. Rarity, coupled with simplicity of
construction, were the factors contributing to replication of this fine
mechanical. Figure II is a base diagram of an original "Girl in Victorian
Chair" bank. A reproduction would appear approximately one-sixteenth of
an inch shorter along the base than the dimension indicated.