Harold Lloyd Bank
by Sy Schreckinger – ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine – July, 2000
Hollywood has provided the world with some of
the most memorable films and exciting talent ever to be seen. This was no
less true during its earlier years, that of the 1920s, when the silent
movie was the major source of entertainment.
Skillful comedians, dedicated to their craft and
mission of providing laughter, emerged to dominate the silver screen.
Familiar names such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, Harry
Langdon, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and Harold Lloyd delighted the public
with their mute antics. However, of these, only Harold Lloyd (Figure 1)
was able to sustain the attention and affection of the movie-going public,
as evidenced by the greater number of films in which he starred. Compared
to Charlie Chaplin's role in a total of four major features over a ten
year period, Lloyd played the lead in eleven films.
Needless to say, enterprising entrepreneurs in this country and
abroad were eager to profit from the success and overwhelming popularity
of Lloyd. A plethora of items bearing his likeness were created and sold.
Photographic images, dolls, masks, Lloyd-style eyeglasses, hats,
figurines, and toys inundated the marketplace. One of these manufacturers,
the Saalheimer and Strauss Company, located in Nurnberg, Germany, produced
the "Harold Lloyd" tin mechanical bank (Figure 2). The company was one of
the most prestigious German manufacturers of the era. Their production
included tinplate novelty items, household goods, toys, and mechanical
Figure 3 represents a rare, early twentieth-century Saalheimer and
Strauss advertising flyer in which are featured several tin mechanicals in
its line, including the "Harold Lloyd" bank. This flyer identifies the
"Harold Lloyd" bank as one of a set of six different subjects of exactly
the same style and configuration. However, to date, eight different
subjects from this group have been identified and these reside in various
collections. The banks are "Harold Lloyd", "British Lion", "Bulldog",
"Bear", "Clown", "Tiger", "African Native", and "Golliwog".
Interestingly, several of the aforementioned were not only marketed
as mechanical banks, but also as candy containers. These were originally
supplied with their coin receptacles filled with Lyon's Toffees. Many
examples exhibit the following words on their obverse: "LYON'S TOFFEES,
LONDON, ENGLAND, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO WORK BEFORE REMOVING TOFFEES."
Activation of the "Harold Lloyd" bank is simplistic as well as
humorous. The looped wire lever on the left side of Harold's hat is
depressed. Simultaneously, his jaw lowers, his eyes move upward, and his
tongue protrudes. A coin is then placed upon the tongue and the lever is
released. The tongue and coin automatically snap back into the bank, and
the jaw returns to the position seen in Figure 2. Deposits are retrieved
by opening the sliding key lock coin retainer at the top of the coin box.
The "Harold Lloyd" mechanical is considered quite rare, as are most
of the others identified in this series. For this reason, it is unlikely
that even the most diligent of bank collectors would be able to acquire
the complete set.
To my knowledge none of the Saalheimer and Strauss banks have been
reproduced. Nevertheless, I am including the following dimensions of the
"Harold Lloyd" tin mechanical bank to aid in determining size and scale:
Heights 5-3/8 inches; Width: 3 inches.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT: The "Harold Lloyd" bank (Figure 2), is from the
collection of Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck.