"I Want You to Save Your Money!" That might have been the caption for this 1886 Uncle Sam mechanical bank manufactured by the Shepard Hardware & Manufacturing Company, Buffalo, New York. One of only four cast-iron, mechanical banks ever to contain clockwork-sustained action, the jovial "Uncle" drops a coin placed in his extended right hand into a bag marked "U.S." while his mouth opens and closes. Is he laughing or just saying, "Thanks"? Long before the now-famous World War I recruiting poster turned Uncle Sam into the popular figure we still cherish, the character represented the height of national patriotic feelings. Said to have originated with Samuel Wilson of Troy, New York, who supplied the army with food barrels stamped "U.S." during the War of 1812, the image of "Uncle Sam" became ever more popular as a symbol of American identity during times of national crisis. In the era following the Civil War, the iconic image experienced a resurgence in popularity as the reunited nation sought symbols of American identity. In 1886 the mechanical bank combined popular patriotic sentiments with parents' interest in teaching kids to save.
|Artist||C. Shepard & P. Adams|
|Manufacturer||Shepard Hardware Co.|
|Material||painted cast iron|
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