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European Tin 


Toutoubox Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine September, 2007

     "Toutoubox" is the charming and attractive mechanical bank seen in Figure 1. It features the ever-popular and lovable image of man's best friend.
     A favorite subject for American and European mechanical bank designers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the canine's likeness was incorporated and portrayed in a multitude of themes. While manufacturers in this country utilized primarily cast iron (with such notables as lye's "Bulldog Savings Bank", Judd's "Boy and Bulldog" and "Dog on Turntable", Kyser and Rex's "Dog Tray Bank" and "Organ Bank with Cat and Dog", Shepard Hardware's "Speaking Dog Bank" and "Trick Dog Bank", and J. & E. Stevens' "Patronize the Blind Man and His Dog" and "Bulldog Bank"), European manufacturers employed tin-plate and/or lead-alloy. Such examples featuring the endearing pooch include "Spring Jawed Bulldog", "Spring Jawed Bonzo", "Nodding Dog", "Gebruder Bing's "Old Mother Hubbard and Her Poor Dog" Bank, Saalheimer and Strauss' "English Bulldog", "Bonzo Bank", "Clever Dick", "Clown and Dog", and the aforementioned subject of this article, (manufacturer unknown) "Toutoubox" (Figure 1).
     To date, no patent information or manufacturers' catalogs pertaining to "Toutoubox" has been located. In addition, there are no identifying marks or symbols on the bank to indicate heritage. However, based upon the mechanical's graphics, its composition, as well as its accompanying instruction sheet (Figure 2), it may be assumed "Toutoubox" is of early 20th century European manufacture. Because of its tin-plate and lead-alloy construction a prevailing belief amongst collectors is that "Toutoubox" was possibly manufactured in Germany for the French market. These assumptions are based upon the fact that, during this period, Germany was the world center for tin-plate and lead-alloy toy and bank production, and that the mechanical's accompanying instruction sheet (Figure 2) was printed entirely in French.
     Represented in Figure 2 is a copy of one of the original instruction sheets that had been supplied with each purchase of "Toutoubox." The following is its translation: "Don't mistreat your dog...Here is the way to play with your "Toutoubox". 1. Hold the house firmly from the bottom. 2. Gently unhook the ring from the side of the house. 3. Let the dog come out slowly, while holding the cord. Put a coin in his mouth. 4. Pull cord back very gently. Toutou has swallowed the coin. 5. Start again!... or hook ring back on side. Put the Toutoubox on your mantelpiece where it will become your favorite knick-knack. To remove deposits put key in key hole and turn one-quarter turn to the right and remove door. To put door back in place (1) put bottom in first (2) then push on the top. GULLIVER TOY".
     (Author's note: I have personally seen examples of "Toutoubox" that utilize a small sheet metal screw rather than a key lock in order to secure the coin door to the bank.)
     Interestingly, the words "Gulliver Toy", printed at the bottom of the instructions sheet (Figure 2), were translated from the French words "Jouet Gulliver". Perhaps this may indicate the name of either the bank's French or German manufacturer or distributor.
     "Toutoubox" is constructed almost entirely of colorfully lithographed tin plate; the dog is composed of artistically painted lead-alloy. This mechanical is quite rare, with only a mere handful known to grace the shelves of fortunate collectors.
     I am not aware of the existence of reproductions of "Toutoubox" Bank. However, that does not preclude the possibility of reproduced replacement parts. In such instances the value of the bank would be somewhat compromised. Despite its tin plate construction and diminutive size, i.e. Height: 4 inches, Width: 3-1/8 inches, Depth: 4-3/8 inches, "Toutoubox" is an extremely desirable addition to a mechanical bank collection.
     Acknowledgement: The superb example "Toutoubox", Figure 1, is in the collection of Bob Weiss.

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