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
(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.