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Smithsonian Institution Collections

Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer

  • Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer
  • Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer
  • Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer
  • Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer
  • Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer
  • Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer
  • Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer
  • Crank toy in the form of a minstrel banjo player and minstrel male dancer
Smithsonian Museum
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Description
A handmade, wooden crank toy in the form of caricatures of a banjo player and male dancer. The toy has a wooden base, open at the front and back, with two (2) carved, wooden figures on top. Both figures have jointed arms and legs, white plastic hands and have a metal wire attaching them to the crank mechanism. The figure on the left is a male dancer. His head and body are primarily painted black. He has round white eyes and lip white lips. A white strip on plastic runs down the center of the torso representing a white shirt. The shirt has two (2) silver pins resembling buttons. The figure on the right is a banjo player seated on a wooden seat. He is nearly identical to the figure on the left except with the addition of a black hat with a green brim and a tan hand band and the banjo he is holding. The banjo has a black neck, white head and silver tacks attached around the head. Just above the base of the toy is a hand-operated mechanism to move the figures. The mechanism includes a wooden dowel with a wooden crank is threaded through round holes in the sides. Two (2) wooden squares are attached to the dowel, that turn beneath two white plastic wiffle golf balls. The golf balls have threaded through a second dowel that is attached to a board, with arches cut-out above the golf balls. The dancer is connected at the back to the mechanism and the banjo player is connected via his proper left hand. When the crank is turned, the blocks cause the balls to turn and the panel to move, resulting in the dancing motion of the dancer and the strumming of the banjo by the banjo player.
Created by
Unidentified
Date
mid 20th century
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Collection of James M. Caselli and Jonathan Mark Scharer
Medium
wood , metal and plastic
Dimensions
16 x 11 3/4 x 5 7/16 in. (40.6 x 29.8 x 13.8 cm)
Type
mechanical toys