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European Tin 


Minstrel Bank (Tin)
by F.H. Griffith - HOBBIES Magazine - October, 1979

79-10.JPG (21293 bytes)

Tin lithographed mechanical banks of German manufacture comprise a particularly desirable attractive group of the mechanicals. The excellence of the lithography combined with the bright fine colors sets them apart with a charisma all their own. This is not to say that the American made cast iron mechanicals are not at the top in desirability, as they are most certainly. It is to say, however, that many collectors are prone to try to compare the German tin with the American cast iron. This cannot logically be done — they are two separate identities. True, they are all toys and all mechanical banks, but that is where any comparison ends. The German tin litho has its own style, appeal and identity, as does the American cast iron.

There was a time not too many years ago when a German made toy was more or less frowned upon by collectors. Not so today, and particularly so with the well detailed early vintage toy automobiles made by various German manufacturers. Japanese toys — nobody really bothered with them. Actually, some wonderful toys have been made in Japan since World War II, so that battery operated banks, space toys and Robots are a big thing today in the collector’s field. Those that got in on the ground floor a few years ago were lucky or whatever, but it still offers more or less a whole new field of collecting.

Back to our finely lithographed German tin mechanicals, as we come to a very nice example of this art in the Minstrel Bank, No. 282 in the numerical classification. It well represents what we pointed out above, fine work and bright cheerful colors, adding up to an attractive bank circa 1920’s.

The Minstrel shown is in original fine condition with colors as follows: the curved top is red and the base is black. The overall body of the bank is yellow with checkered decorations in black and green. The back of the bank has pinwheel type depictions in red. The face is brown with black hair, red lips, red tongue, white teeth and light brown eyes with black pupils. The operating lever is on a rectangular red raised section just under the face. Below this appears the following verse in red letters:

‘Press the lever lightly,
Watch my tongue appear,
Save a penny nightly,
Make your fortune here.’

Underneath the verse appears in small red letters ‘Made Abroad.’ Underneath this are the letters ‘D.R.G.M.’ in black and a double ‘S’ is in a white square at the bottom front. A locking coin trap is in the underside of the base.

To operate the bank, the front lever is pressed down. A large tongue protrudes from his mouth and he lowers his eyes. A coin is placed on his tongue, the lever is lifted into position causing his tongue to recede with the coin and his eyes to return to position.

The bank pictured is in the great collection of Wally Tudor. It might be well to point out that the writer’s bank, as well as others, has the wording ‘Made in Germany’ on the front, rather than ‘Made Abroad’.

Figure 1 shows the Minstrel before and after operation. Figure 2 shows the Minstrel with his tongue out and his eyes closed.


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