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The Hubley Trick Elephant Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – October, 1992

      Of all the animals to inhabit the circus, the elephant may, perhaps, be considered one of the most endearing to both children and adults alike. Few are able to resist its gentleness, so deceptively concealed beneath its huge and powerful exterior.
     It is of no great wonder, therefore, that early toy manufacturers sought to capitalize upon the popularity of the pachyderm by incorporating its image into almost every line of their wares. Encouraged by the, sales of these toys, many of the mechanical bank manufacturers also began to incorporate the circus elephant into their designs. Examples include such notables as "Baby Elephant Opens at X O'Clock," designed by the well-known Charles A., Bailey, "Elephant Howdah Man Pops Up" bank which was introduced by the Enterprise Manufacturing Company, "Elephant and Three Clowns," the "Jumbo Elephant" bank and the "Light of Asia," which were produced by the J. and E. Stevens Co., "Elephant with Tusks on Wheels" bank, sold by Kyser and Rex, and the series of elephant mechanical banks with swinging trunks, issued by the A.C. Williams Co.
     The "Trick Elephant" bank (Fig. I) is believed to be the last of the "antique" elephant mechanical banks to be manufactured. It was produced by one of the major cast iron toy foundries, namely the Hubley Manufacturing Company of Lancaster, PA. The company was founded by John Hubley in 1894 and became one of the leading producers of cast iron toys in the world. Their merchandise included toy automobiles, trucks, trains, airplanes, farm vehicles, animal-drawn wagons and still banks. It was not until the turn of the century that Hubley introduced their line of mechanicals. These included "Trick Dog" — 6-part base (Fig. II), the patent and patterns of which were purchased from the Shepard Hardware Co. of Buffalo, New York. Following this was the "Trick Dog" — solid base version, the "Trick Monkey" bank, and the final in the series, the "Trick Elephant" bank (Fig. III).
     Unfortunately, neither patent papers nor other information pertaining to the banks' inventor(s) or designer(s) has surfaced. Had it not been for Hubley catalogs and advertisements (refer to Figure III), the manufacturer of "Trick Elephant" bank might have remained an enigma.
     There are two minor casting differences and two color variants of the "Trick Elephant" bank. The elephant may either be painted a natural light gray, as were the earlier production models, or a flat white. As to the castings, the tail may be created from either cast iron or aluminum. The colors of the bank illustrated in Figure I are as follows: The entire elephant is painted white. It has yellow tusks, and eyes, the pupils of which are dark blue with red dots in each corner. The mouth and top of the trunk are painted red. The howdah is also red and is bordered with gold decorations. It sits upon a dark blue blanket with gold fringe. Finally, the strap around the elephant's belly is painted red.
     The action of the "Trick Elephant" bank is both simplistic and amusing. To quote from the catalog page in Figure III ... "Coin is placed in trunk, and thrown into body by lifting tail." Coin deposits are removed by unscrewing the large center bolt which secures both halves of the elephant together.
     The "Trick Elephant" bank is considered to be quite common since it had been produced in large quantities over several years. However, in view of its popularity with young children, it is quite un­common to come across an example that is in superb, almost mint condition. Thus, when an exceptional bank is offered for sale, it is usually at a premium price.
     The "Trick Elephant" bank has been reproduced. Figure IV is a base diagram of an original example. Dimensions of recasts will vary from one-quarter to one-half inch shorter in length than indicated.
     I would like to thank Mr. Julian Thomas of Thomas Toys, Inc., Fenton, MI, for his kind assistance in providing the catalog pages and information pertaining to the Hubley Co. mentioned in this article.

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