In the mid-1800's, an unknown artist painted the face of a young Black boy in warm, soft colors, and unbeknown to the artist, forever immortalized the young boy's image! Since that time a variety of items were been produced in the image of the "Young Black boy with the Torn Hat" or "Johnny Griffin".
This circa 1900-1910 Johnny Griffin item is a double image still bank that features 2 images of Johnny's head placed back-to-back. It was manufactured by the A.C. Williams Company of Ravenna, Ohio, which at the turn of the 20th century and up until World War II, was the largest toy and still bank manufacturer in the world. (At the start of WWII, production declined sharply as iron was needed for military consumption, marking the end of an era.) The bank is constructed of cast iron in two pieces which unscrew to facilitate the emptying of coins. There is a coin slot at the top of Johnny's head for use in depositing the coins. This sweet bank remains functional for banking use today or may be simply used as an attractive desk paperweight!
It is in all original condition with delightful patina- not a reproduction- and measures 3 inches high x 2 1/2 inches wide. It retains traces of the original gold leaf paint and may (or may not!) have a replaced screw.
The Johnny Griffin image- in the arena of Black Americana collectibles- should form the cornerstone of any serious Black Memorabilia collection!
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