Cast Iron Mechanical Humpty Dumpty Bank

This example is a modern reproduction of the cast iron 'Humpty Dumpty' banks first produced in 1882. The original bank design is believed to have been modeled after a pantomime clown character first popularized in 1868 by a Mr. G. L. Fox. Humpty Dumpty the clown appeared in a somewhat bizarre variety show that was popular enough to have a stage run of about five years in New York City, ending when Mr. Fox himself came to a bad end that was no laughing matter.

Put a coin in the bank clown Humpty's hand and press the lever and the coin goes in through his mouth. Probably this meant something of significance to the designer's of the bank, in relation to Humpty the real clown, but that significance is now lost in the mists of history. The patent for the mechanical workings of this bank actually covered several different bank designs made by the same maker and so the same patent number can often be found on all.

The mark on the back of this reproduction example reads 'Humpty Dumpty,' just like the original bank, but the bottom is actually marked, 'Taiwan,' though this may often be somewhat obscured by paint. Such a mark is of course a sure clue this item is not authentic. Though the text of the markings on the bottoms of authentic examples can vary somewhat as they continued to be made over time, expect an original bank to be marked 'Shepherd Hardware, Buffalo, NY, USA.' and not 'Taiwan' - as they were not originally made anywhere near the Orient.

There are other characteristics that immediately indicate this bank isn't 'right' without ever turning the bank over to look for a mark. For instance:

1. In collecting circles Shepard Hardware Company is known for the exceptionally nice paint and detailing they put into their banks. Original Shepherd Humpty Dumpty banks had three primary colors - red, white and dark blue, with yellow details added. The colors on this bank aren't even close to being correct. The blue is pale and modern looking, pink was used instead of red and the collar, which should be white with neat red and yellow details, is entirely painted a horrid shade of orange.

2. Humpty's hand should be flesh colored, not simply a paler shade of the same awful pink used on the costume.

3. The eyes on authentic banks are natural looking, with very human coloration. This item has weird and scary eyes. They have been painted the same color as the collar. No doubt it was a cost savings at the factory to not waste money to add even one more small additional detail such as a natural eye color just to finish their banks.

4. There are star shaped decorations on the chest. On this item they were carelessly painted over with a solid color. These decorative devices on original banks are painted with alternate colors; usually with red background and a yellow center on Humpty's left breast and a yellow background with red, blue and white details on the right.

5. Other characteristics of modern cast iron (as noted in additional cast iron reproductions listed in this shop) apply, as well. A rough surface, poor quality casting, the presence of bright orange colored rust and seams that meet poorly.

Although this specific example may be as old as the 1970's this same bank is still being reproduced today. So many of the reproductions are on the market currently the only way this item would be worth the price illustrated in this listing would be if it can be purchased with a $100 dollar bill stuffed inside it.

Originals came in two slightly different sizes of about 7 and 1/2 inches and 8 inches, but reproduction wholesalers may decide to sell them in many different sizes.

Item ID: 2007RP00097

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


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