This is an antique cast iron mechanical bank from the J. and E. Stevens Company.
There are many reproductions of this particularly piece (titled "Darky in the Cabin"), but this bank is completely genuine.
Originals have become increasingly difficult to find, making this beauty a rare treasure indeed!
The J. and E. Stevens Company was established in Cromwell, Connecticut in 1843 when founders John and Elisha Stevens established a factory to manufacture cast-iron hardware.
Several years later, in 1869, the company produced its first mechanical bank.
This wonderful bank was first listed in the Stevens Company catalog in the mid 1880s as model number 297. It was originally patented in 1855.
Entitled "Darky in the Cabin", the bank is a truly beautiful example of 19th century black Americana.
As you can see, the figure stands in the doorway of the cabin with his hands in his pockets.
There is a slot on the roof where a coin can be placed and when the small lever (in the shape of a broom) on the right side of the cabin is pushed the little man is quickly upended and kicks the coin inside. The bank still works wonderfully.
Both the figure and cabin are painted in bright shades of yellow, red and brown. Charming accents like windows and rabbit skin and drying pan hanging on the outside of the cabin give the bank delightful character.
A metal stopper on the underside of the bank can be twisted and removed, allowing access to the coins inside. It is stamped "PatD Feb 2 1875".
Another mark on the underside of the bank reads "PatD June 2 1855".
The bank shows age appropriate wear and paint-loss, but the paint is much better than one would expect. You can certainly see the original colors on the cabin and accents on each side, etc.
The mechanics work perfectly.
This is a very collectible, rare piece.
Measurements: 3 ¾" tall, 4 ¼" long, 2 7/8" wide Weight: 1 lb., 8 oz.