New bank marked Occupied JapanBy

New bank marked "Occupied Japan"

New ceramic mammy banks were sold with "Made in Occupied Japan" markings. The new banks are copied from a vintage ceramic bank made in Japan from the late 1930s through the mid 1950s.

The cost was ten dollars each wholesale. Vintage originals sell for $60-$95.

There are several ways to separate new from old according to Al Liffman of Collection Liquidators, one of the nations leading sources of authentic black memorabilia.

"Original banks of this style were all cold painted with the trim paint applied over the glaze. All the trim paint on the new pieces is under the glaze. Original banks were cheap novelties that you had to break to get at the coins. There are holes in the bases of the new banks," says Liffman.

Liffman also mentioned originals of this particular bank may occasionally be found marked Japan, but he couldn't recall ever having seen one marked Occupied Japan. A review of black memorabilia reference books also failed to turn up any example marked Occupied Japan.

Occupied Japan marks are easily applied with rubber stamps made at office supply store. Like many other antiques and collectibles, the mark alone is no guarantee of age or authenticity.

Japan was occupied after WWII by Allied military forces from September 2, 1945 to April 28, 1952. The first post-WW II Japanese manufactured goods to arrive in any quantity began entering American ports around August 1948. From then until 1952, American trade laws required Japanese items exported to the Unites States be marked "Made in Occupied Japan" or "Occupied Japan."

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Fig. 1 Two new six-inch figural mammy ceramic banks. Available in at least two color schemes. Left, yellow dress with red trim; right, white dress with red trim. Copied from the vintage bank shown in Fig. 4.

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Fig. 2 Bases of the new banks are rubber stamped "MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN." Both of our new samples were marked in blue ink on unglazed, bisque finished bottoms.

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Fig. 3 View of coin slot in the back of the reproduction. Slots in both new and old are very similar in size and shape and are not a reliable test of age.

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Fig. 4 Vintage ceramic mammy six-inch bank made ca. late 1930s-mid 1950s. Originals generally had white bodies with head scarf, neckerchief, apron and shoes trimmed in various colors.
Photo courtesy Collection Liquidators.

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Fig. 5 Bases of two new banks. Original banks did not have coin traps, or holes, in the bases. Just because holes in the new bases are irregularly shaped, it does not mean the banks are old.