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Speaking Dog mechanical bank

Object Name: Mechanical bank
Date: patented 1885
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Medium: Iron, paint
Dimensions: Overall: 7 x 7 1/8 x 3 in. (17.8 x 18.1 x 7.6 cm)
Place made: United States, Buffalo
Description: Cast iron mechanical bank in the form of seated girl and dog on irregularly shaped rectangular pedestal; girl dressed in red dress with hat, seated on bench, with large dog seated in front of her, eyes fixed on her face; cast inscription on front of pedestal; when coin is placed on girl's tray, girl's arm moves and coin falls into bank, while dog's mouth opens and tail wags.
Credit Line: Purchased from Elie Nadelman
Object Number: 1937.482
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Marks: Cast into base: "SPEAKING DOG"; cast beneath base: "PAT JULY 14TH 1885 / AND / OCT20 1885"

Gallery Label:

This object was once part of the folk art collection of Elie Nadelman (1882-1946), the avant-garde sculptor. From 1924 to 1934, Nadelman's collection was displayed in his Museum of Folk Arts, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The Historical Society purchased Nadelman's entire collection in 1937.

With humorous and sometimes satirical subjects and brightly painted surfaces, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century mechanical banks amused children while encouraging thriftiness.This bank is based on Patent No. 328,723, issued to Charles G. Shepard and Peter Adams, Jr., on October 20, 1885 (See Publications).


Sara M. Sanders, Closter, NJ, 1927; The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman, Riverdale, NY


"Tin toys and banks and cast iron vehicles," New-York Historical Society, April 21, 2000–March 31, 2002.

"Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman," Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, NM, September 6–November 29, 2015; New-York Historical Society, May 20–August 21, 2016; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA, September 17–December 31, 2016.