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The Punch And Judy Bank
(Part II, A Unique Color Variation)

by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – June, 1994

      Surprising and enlightening is the recent discovery of a copper, electroplated variation of the Shepard Hardware Company's "Punch and Judy" mechanical bank (Figure I). This necessitates an addendum to the January 1986 Antique Toy World article, "The Punch and Judy Bank," in which was written that all "Punch and Judy" banks manufactured by the Shepard Hardware Company were painted in the same manner and colors as shown in Figure II.
     The new find was acquired from an antique dealer residing in the Abilene, Texas, area. He had purchased it from an elderly gentleman from Fort Worth who recounted that the bank had been presented as a gift to his grandfather, then a small boy in Pennsylvania.
     When offered, the mechanical's appearance was bleak. It was totally encrusted with a thick coating of dull black oxide. Only minute traces of copper were visible through several areas underneath the base. My initial appraisal of the bank categorized it as a 19th-century bronze foundry pattern used to cast original "Punch and Judy" banks. However, closer examination and a magnet soon dispelled the "pattern" theory. The bank was not composed of bronze, but cast iron with a metallic copper coating!
     I then proceeded to contact an associate who is astute on the subject of metallurgy. My goal was to uncover as much of the original finish remaining under its oxide shroud as possible. Within several hours of testing, he concluded that the bank had been copper-electroplated and oxidized during the late 19th or early 20th century. Supporting his hypothesis was the fact that the oxide used to blacken the electroplate was arsenic-based. He further explained that this was an archaic, post-copper-electroplating procedure discontinued at the turn of this century due to the mortal dangers involved in its usage. Because of its hazardous nature, it was suggested that he, rather than I, remove the oxide. This was accomplished by using a soft, silver-stainless steel alloy wire brush combined with a mild polishing agent. Figure I is the successful result of his endeavors.
     Worthy of mention is that, until the discovery of the copper-electroplated "Punch and Judy" bank, the Shepard Company was thought to have copper-electroplated only one other mechanical bank in their line: i.e., the "Artillery" bank (refer to Antique Toy World, February 1988).
     The "Punch and Judy" bank was conceived by both Peter Adams, Jr., and Charles G. Shepard of Buffalo, N.Y. They were granted Patent number 302,039 on July 15, 1884 (Figure III). Several days later, on July 22, 1884, "Design Patent" number 15,155 (Figure IV) was also issued to Messrs. Adams and Shepard. The additional patent was solely to protect the external design features of their "Punch and Judy" bank.
     To date, I am aware of only two color variations of the "Punch and Judy" bank (Figures I and II), and three casting variants. These pertain to the letters which form the words "PUNCH AND JUDY BANK" at the peak of each bank. The mechanicals pictured in Figures I and II are re­ferred to as the "large letters" variation. The other two have the name "PUNCH AND JUDY BANK" across a raised, arched ribbon in either small or medium Gothic letters.
     The action of "Punch and Judy" is quite amusing. The round plunger on the right side of the bank is pulled out, causing Judy to turn towards the front and Punch to raise his club in a menacing manner. A coin is placed into Judy's tray and the small lever under the round plunger is then pressed downward. Simultaneously, Punch lowers his club as if to strike Judy, and she quickly turns toward him, depositing the coin into the bank. The money is removed by unscrewing the base plate underneath the bank.
     The "Punch and Judy" bank has been reproduced. Therefore, I am including a base diagram (Figure V) to aid the collector in determining an original example from a recast. A reproduction will appear approximately one-eighth inch shorter along the width than indicated.
     Acknowledgement: The electroplated example of the "Punch and Judy" bank (Figure I) now resides in the superb collection of Frank and Joyce Kidd of Portland, Ore.

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