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Mechanical bank: I Always Did 'Spise A Mule

Object Name: Mechanical bank
Date: 1879
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Medium: Iron, paint
Dimensions: Overall: 8 x 10 x 2 7/8 in. ( 20.3 x 25.4 x 7.3 cm )
Place made: North America, United States
Description: Cast iron mechanical bank in the form of jockey riding on mule, on textured base painted green with log painted brown and slot (for coins) at opposite end; Jockey represented as gross caricature of African-American, with large mouth forming slot for coin; additional cast details such as bridle and saddle on mule, and grain of wood; cast inscription along edge of base, which extends down, painted red, with section cut out; when lever on bottom is pressed, rider is thrown from mule to deposit coin in slot.
Credit Line: Purchased from Elie Nadelman
Object Number: 1937.484
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Marks: cast: in plug beneath base: "PATD FEB 9 1875" cast: beneath base: "PATD APR 22/1879." cast: on top of base: "I ALWAYS DID 'SPISE A MULE"

Gallery Label:

This bank was based on Patent No. 214,615, taken out by James H. Bowen on April 22, 1879. The patent was for a toy of the same name.


The Folk Art Collection of Elie Nadelman