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ROBIN ON CLOCK
by Sy Schreckinger ANTIQUE TOY WORLD Magazine April, 2013

THE CHOICE FOR discussion, this article, is a most charming toy penny bank. "Robin On Clock Bank" (Figure 1) is a tasteful and artistic portrayal of the beauty of nature.
     Ironically, the peaceful and serene appearance of this bank belies its country of origin and the era of its manufacture. Early twentieth century Germany was immersed in turmoil. Its population faced the threat of impending economic depression and political unrest. On the brink of war, the nation looked to the creation of new and innovative exports as a means of financial salvation.
     Renowned companies operating in Germany, such as Bing Bros. Metalware (Nurnberg), Gottfried Quitmann (Lunen), Otto and Max Hauser (Stuttgart), Ernst L Dittmar and Edmund Hunger (Dresden), had heretofore produced and/or distributed tin plate and zinc-alloy products solely for common domestic usage. Their efforts then became focused upon the manufacture of a multitude of ingenious toys and penny banks specifically intended for foreign market export. "Robin On Clock" (Figure 1) was one example. It was a creatively and colorfully painted zinc-alloy and tin plate penny bank.
     The ambiguity of the exact nature of the aforementioned companies rendered it unclear as to whether or not each actually produced and/ or distributed many of the zinc-alloy banks featured in their catalogs. For example, Gottfried Quitmann Company was a subsidiary of Bing Bros. Metalware. Both companies produced and distributed a wide range of tin plate and zinc-alloy money boxes, several of which were also created by other manufacturers.
     It is assumed the lack of information pertaining to "Robin On Clock" was not only due to the destruction of relevant data during World War I, but may also be attributed to nineteenth century German patent law. During this period products considered insignificant, e.g. toys, were designated "Reichsgebrachmuster" (registered design), and routinely discarded after fifteen years of issue. This practice left an historical void for future collectors seeking knowledge of the inventors and manufacturers of these penny banks.
     Fortunately, fellow collector and historian, Harald Merklein of Nurnberg, Germany, had located a rare and obscure Edmund Hunger Metal Bank Manufacturer advertisement (Figure 2) featured in the 1914 issue of the wholesale toy magazine "Spielwaren-Zeitung". The ad pictured several of Mr. Hunger's zinc- alloy banks. Unfortunately, "Robin On Clock" is not represented in it or in any other catalog or adsement of the period. One can only assume, therefore, it may have been produced by any of the aforementioned companies.
     "Robin On Clock" is constructed almost entirely of painted "Zinkgub" (zinc-alloy). The clock portion of the bank is composed of unpainted tin plate with a non functional, paper clock face (Figure 3).
     Operation of "Robin On Clock" is subtle and amusing. Upon deposition of a coin, the robin flutters backward and forward several times. This action results from the deposited coin striking a flat internal leaf spring, as seen in Figure 4. The leaf spring action is similar to, and accomplished in the same manner as, the German produced "Spring Jawed" mechanical bank series. Deposits are recovered by opening the key lock, trap door type coin retainer located at the rear of the bank (Figure 4).
     Fragile zinc-alloy and tin plate construction may likely account for the rarity of "Robin On Clock". This is especially significant when considering its former appeal to, and possible mishandling by, young persons.
     "Robin On Clock" is small in size: Height: 4-1/4 inches, Width: 4-1/4 inches. However, this does not diminish its desirability. It is an extremely rare, attractive and welcome addition to a mechanical bank collection.
     Acknowledgment: The superb, unique example "Robin On Clock" Mechanical Bank is from the collection of the Kidd Toy Museum, Frank and Joyce Kidd proprietors.

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