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Man Frightened by Snake

ca. 1900
Origin: America
11" X 15" X 9"
Cigar box wood, string, leather, ivory, fabric, and steel spring
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1963.1200.4
The figure of a black man sits at the front of a wagon with his feet resting on a foot board attached to the front of the wagon. Behind him, coming out of the center of the wagon is a snake with fangs. As the wheels of the wagon turn, the snake's head bobs up and down and the figure raises his arms and a bell is struck inside the wagon. The wagon is painted red and yellow. All of the edges of the wagon and wheels are decorated with small close notches. The figure is dressed in fabric.
Label:While the startled man and the long-tongued snake attract attention, the colored, layered woods and chip-carved edges add character to the simple wagon. This action toy was likely crafted by an individual to delight a young relative. It has several features common to toys of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There is both sound and movement. When the wagon is pulled along the ground, the snake bobs up and down in the back frightening the man who responds with waving arms. At the same time, a bell concealed inside the wagon rings.