Red Riding Hood BankBy Mark Chervenka
Red Riding Hood Bank
An original Little Red Riding Hood standing bank can sell for $750-$900. Reproduction wholesalers are now offering a confusing look-alike for around $30. There have been new pieces being found as "sleepers" at flea markets or estate sales and bringing $150-$300 from unsuspecting buyers. There are several key features to help you tell new from old.
First, look at the base. There are two holes in both new and old versions. The holes in the original average about 3/8", only slightly larger than the diameter of a wood pencil. Exact size as well as shape varies.
Now look at the holes in the new base. The holes are nearly the size of a dime. In fact, by putting a dime on edge, you can pass it through one of the holes. Obviously this is illogical for an item supposedly designed as a bank; you can't have your money fall out the bottom. But since the reproduction is sold as a collectible it doesn't have to be practical. The original was sold as a bank and had to perform that function.
The other major problem with the new bank is the poor quality. Although this is probably obvious to regular buyers of Little Red Riding Hood, it may not be so apparent to other less familiar with this line. A side by side comparison shows the differences (Figs. 5-6). Old eyes are painted in two colors giving a fairly lifelike expression. New eyes are a dot of a single color and are without expression. Originals have a blush on the cheek and a rather small mouth. There is no blush on the cheeks of new banks and the new mouth is much larger and less detailed. Brushstrokes in the hair, eyebrows and eyelashes of the original are much finer than the coarse brushstrokes used in the same areas on the new pieces.
Another good area to check for quality detail work is in the coin slot. Original slots are virtually always smoothly glazed with no trace of fired in ceramic debris. Slots in the new banks frequently have bits and chunks of clay partially blocking the coin slot. A blocked coin slot would obviously be another sign of a reproduced collectible that was never intended to be a functioning bank.
Although the old example shown here has gold trim, not all original banks are decorated with gold. All the new banks we have examined have gold decorated scarves around the neck. New gold is somewhat redder or more copper colored than old gold. However, the color of the gold is not a reliable test of age. The size of the casting holes and painted details are a much more accurate way of determining authenticity.
Original Red Riding Hood items were marketed by Hull Pottery of Crooksville, Ohio from the early 1940s into the 1950s. Although Hull owned the design patent on the line, much of the production and decoration was done by Regal China located in Antioch, Illinois. Apply the guidelines here for only this particular item. This is the only bank we know of at this time but there certainly could be others out there.