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Chinaman Somersault Bank
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine July, 2008

     The intriguing and mysterious Orient has always fascinated the world outside its boundaries. In centuries past, captivating tales of strange traditions and mystical powers were concocted by western civilization.
     However, prejudice, fear, and disdain were to replace this fascination, tainting the arrival of Asians immigrating to this country. Hostility greeted the hordes of Chinese and Japanese individuals during the latter portion of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Suspicion and distrust of these "strange and unknown foreigners" were communicated through various means.
     In addition to verbal and written abuse, a number of manufactured goods reflected the attitudes of the nation. Children's playthings were among the host of items, as evidenced by several toy mechanical banks produced during that era. Examples of such negative depictions included the cunning card player portrayed in "Reclining Chinaman Bank", and the "Chinaman In the Boat Bank", whose subject is an Oriental gentleman about to consume a most unpalatable meal.
     Less offensive depictions of the Oriental race included the ambidextrous juggler represented in the entertaining "Japanese Ball Tosser Bank", the serene tea-sipping figure as subject of "Mandarin Bank", and the agile and sprightly acrobat represented in "Chinaman Somersault Bank", Figure 1, and topic of this article.
     Unfortunately, to date, neither catalog nor advertising data has surfaced to reveal the bank's manufacturer and/or designer. Historical research has however, presented information that may shed some light upon the mechanical's origins. Chance patent disclosure, combined with the uncanny similarity in operation, size, design, and tinplate construction appear to link it to another mechanical bank, namely "Clown Money Bank" (Figure 2). There is speculation and supposition that both mechanicals were produced sometime during the years 1910-1912, and by Frank Smith and Company of Liverpool, England.
     To lend credence to the aforementioned date of manufacture and country of origin, "Clown Money Bank" displays the following wordage inscribed upon its facade: "REGISTERED DESIGN 667121". The British Patent Office issued such series registration numbers during the years 1910-1912. Furthermore, the "Clown Money Bank" box also seen in Figure 2 exhibits the verbiage "FACTORY NP.126 MADE IN BRITAIN".
     Operation of both "Chinaman Somersault Bank" and "Clown Money Bank" is quite simplistic, although effective. The following directions are inscribed upon the facade of the "Clown Money Bank": Directions: Place the money in his arms. Then gently press the spring and watch". The Chinaman then performs a somersault as the coin exits its hands to be deposited through the slot and into the base of the bank.
     Dimensions of both banks are as follows: "Chinaman Somersault Bank" (Figure 1) Height: 6-3/8 inches, Diameter: 2-1/4 inches; the "Clown Money Bank" (Figure 2): Height: 6-3/8 inches, Width and Depth: 1-3/8 inches. The height of the box (Figure 2) is lesser than that of either mechanicals, indicating the likelihood that each of the banks was packaged and sold in a disassembled state. It is, in fact, not at all difficult to remove or attach the figures of both "Chinaman" and "Clown" from their cradles by gently prying apart the sides of the brackets. I am not aware of any reproduced examples of "Chinaman Somersault Bank". Nevertheless, due to its fragile and delicate construction, this does not preclude the possibility of broken, replaced or reproduced parts. Such instances prompt a revaluation of its monetary worth.
     "Chinaman Somersault Bank" is extremely rare. Only one is known to exist with the possibility of perhaps a second example. Fortunate is/are the individual(s) in possession of this bank. It is, indeed a most attractive and historically important addition to a mechanical bank collection.

If you collect Antique Mechanical Banks this
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by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine July, 2008

     Now you will be able to tell the difference between an original antique mechanical bank and a reproduction.
     IF YOU COLLECT mechanical banks and own a computer, this CD is an invaluable tool in your pursuit of knowledge.
     It encompasses approximately twenty-three years of 280 concise mechanical bank articles from "Antique Toy World" Magazine. Each article offers, in detail, information pertaining to history and vital statistics. Each article is fully illustrated, many in full color. Never in the history of mechanical bank collecting has there been such a wealth of information at your fingertips.
     As a bonus, each CD also contains one thousand additional pages of antique mechanical bank reference material. If this CD prevents you from making just one disappointing, or perhaps costly mistake, it will more than pay for itself.
     To order: Send a check or money order in the amount of $60.00, made payable to ADNIL ANTIQUES and mail to: Sy Schreckinger, Post Office Box 104, East Rockaway, New York 11518-0104.
     Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. NO ORDERS SHIPPED OUTSIDE THE U.S.A.

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