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Online Collections

Jonah and the Whale Bank

mechanical bank

ca. 1910

"Jonah and the Whale" is one of only four biblical narratives ever depicted in mechanical banks. Typical of mechanical banks of the period, this Jonah bank engaged adults and children alike. The entertaining mechanical toy also instructed children in the moral lessons of biblical stories. This "Jonah and the Whale" cast-iron bank, designed and patented in 1890 by Peter Adams for the Shepard Hardware & Manufacturing Company of Buffalo, New York, is one of two mechanical banks depicting Jonah's attempt to shirk divine duty. Adams' creation recounts the beginning of Jonah's adventure. A standing figure holds Jonah in his extended arms. Place a coin on Jonah's back, press a lever, and the figure turns Jonah towards the whale, depositing the coin into the whale's mouth. A year earlier, Charles Bailey designed a mechanical Bank for the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut, that enacted Jonah's emergence from the whale three days later. The Shepard Company produced mechanical banks from 1882 until 1892, when its whale of a rival, the J. & E. Stevens Company, swallowed its Jonah-sized bank-manufacturing division.

ArtistPeter Adams
ManufacturerShepard Hardware Co.
Materialpainted cast iron
OriginBuffalo, NY
Object ID73.1526

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