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European Tin 


Clown Bank – Tin
Little Joe Bank
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - December, 1970

70-12.JPG (12784 bytes)

Two English mechanicals, one tin, the other cast iron, are chosen at this time for the numerical classification. The tin Clown Bank is No. 188 and the cast iron Little Joe No. 189. The Clown Bank is a face or head type somewhat similar to the German made Jolly Joe and Minstrel, both of which are also tin. Little Joe is a member of the bust group and the English excelled in this type bank. They produced more different bust type mechanicals than any other country, and these include some very interesting banks such as Little Moe, Clown Bust, Little Hi-Hat, Starkies Movable Ears, and, among others, the only two female busts known, Dinah (in two forms).

The Clown Bank, Figure 1, is in fine original condition. It has been in the writer’s collection for many years and was found in England. As yet, unfortunately, we do not have much background information. We do not know who manufactured the bank nor its exact period of manufacture. We do know, of course, that it was made in England as on the bottom of the bank appears "British Made."

It is a very colorful bank. The face is white with brown eyes and eyebrows. The mouth, tongue, nose and face markings are all red. He has a yellow collar with red line and the name bank is also red. Below the face are green and red circles outlined in white on a blue background, the word "Press" with the arrow is yellow. The sides and curved top of the bank, formed in one piece, are red. The back of the bank is very decorative in red, green, blue and yellow with numbers of circles outlined in white and one large multi-colored circle. The locking coin trap which is on the back is maroon.

To operate the bank the lever is pressed down and the clown sticks his tongue out. A coin is placed on the tongue and when the lever is released it snaps back inside his mouth taking the coin with it. The bank has a very unusual feature in its operation that has not been covered by any of the mechanicals so far classified. A rubber band, not a spring, was used to retract the tongue. This is quite unique.

Little Joe, Figure 2 is in practically mint condition and was obtained by the writer some years ago in England. We know just about all there is to know with respect to this bank. It was one of the Beatrice line of mechanical banks made by John Harper & Company, Ltd. It was featured in at least two of their catalogs in 1924 and 1931. So the bank was made over a period of years, possibly somewhat prior to 1924, but not long after 1931 which was the last Harper catalog to show the bank.

Little Joe is painted in the following colors: His face and hand are black, he has white eyes with brown pupils having black centers. Lips and tongue are red and teeth are white. He wears a red shirt or jacket with a white collar and blue tie. On the back appears "Little Joe Bank" in raised letters. These letters are gold.

To operate place coin on extended hand and press lever in left rear shoulder. This causes his right hand to lift, depositing the coin in his mouth. His tongue recedes and his eyes roll upward. Releasing the lever causes all parts to return to position as in Figure 2.

Little Joe is definitely a companion bank to Little Hi-Hat, HOBBIES, November, 1968. The two busts are practically identical with exception of the names and the high hat. They make a very nice pair.


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