Toy Monkey With Cymbals: History, Meaning, and Value

Kid’s entertainment has always featured various entertaining and yet odd animal characters. One of such characters is the iconic toy monkey with cymbals and red eyes.

The monkey is typically made of wood or plastic and has two cymbals attached to its hands. When the monkey is ‘played,’ the cymbals make a loud, clanging noise.

For many children, the toy monkey is simply a source of amusement. However, the toy also has a deeper meaning and historical significance. In some cultures, the monkey is thought to represent good luck and fertility. In others, it is seen as a symbol of mischief and chaos.

Regardless of its cultural connotations, the toy monkey with cymbals remains a beloved plaything for children around the world. Also, it is regarded as a collectible by both toy collectors and those in the business of retro culture.

Do you have a red-eyed monkey clapping cymbals in your room? Are you wondering where it all started? And probably what it’s worth? This article provides an answer to all these questions. Keep reading for details.

History of the Cymbal Banging Monkey Toy

The toy monkey with cymbals has been a popular plaything for generations of children. Though the toy’s origins are unclear, it is thought to date back to the early 20th century. Although the design has changed considerably over time, the primary aspect is a sitting monkey holding a set of metal or plastic cymbals.

For all we know, the cymbal banging monkey toy date back to the 1950s when it was first introduced by the Japanese toy company Daishin CK, the first in the toy monkey with cymbals business. They called the mechanical beast “musical jolly chimp.”

Depending on the company that makes it, the kid’s toy has gone by various nicknames. For example, the monkey toy has various forms like “charlie chimp” and wind-up circus monkey. Other names include jolly chimp, magic monkey, and cymbal banging monkey toy.

The original Daishin musical jolly chimp holding a miniature cymbal typically appeared to be wearing an eccentric circus costume, a yellow vest with red buttons, and red and white striped trousers.

However, the monkeys’ attire would alter depending on the available materials as other types of monkeys increased in different parts of the world by other brands.

The first Daishin cymbal banging monkey toy used two D batteries and had a lever behind its head that caused the toy to pull his lips back, showing his teeth and causing his eyes to pop from the plastic of his skull.

The cymbal monkey also screeches and pops his head when you turn a key or press a button.

Other Forms of the Cymbal Banging Monkeys

Aside from the primary antique musical jolly chimp, a cymbal banging monkey toy can take various visual forms. As a result, both battery-operated and wind-up monkey toys were available.

In addition, some modern cymbal clapping monkeys swing back and forth and the same time, joyfully beat their cymbals.

Also, other, more contemporary models displayed different shimmy dances that would make the young ones happy and remind you of their childhood life.


It’s not surprising that many of these monkey toys have clapped their cymbals into pop culture based on fictitious versions. In addition, a cymbal monkey has occasionally featured as a character in films, books, and television programs.

For example, “The Phantom of the Opera” and the “Toy Story” film series featured cymbals banging monkeys. In fact, due to its weird-looking nature, variations of this mechanical beast with cymbals also appeared in numerous science fiction and horror films.

Toy Story Toy Monkey
Toy Story Toy Monkey


This artistic monkey toy with a cymbal has a morbid or eerie appearance. Newer versions of the cymbal-banging monkeys may have decorations that border on the supernatural or resemble skeletons.

Also, the hand-painted, figurine-style design of many of these cymbal monkeys may prevent them from having any moving features since they are on display.

Phantom of The Opera Musical Monkey Figurine
Phantom of The Opera Musical Monkey Figurine Image Credits: Amazon

Clockwork Musical Monkey With Clashing Cymbals

These adorable little wind-up musical monkeys beat their drums and clang their cymbals as they wobble back and forth. The toy appears in a red outfit and has faux fur and plastic faces. As the name goes, they went by the name of their manufacturer, the Clockwork Company.

Vintage Wind-Up Tin Toy - Clockwork Musical Monkey wClashing Cymbals Hong Kong
Vintage Wind-Up Tin Toy – Clockwork Musical Monkey wClashing Cymbals Hong Kong Image Credits: eBay

Pepi the Tumbling Monkey With Cymbals

Vintage Yanoman ILLFELDER Pepi Tumbling Monkey with Cymbal In Original Box Japan
Vintage Yanoman ILLFELDER Pepi Tumbling Monkey with Cymbal In Original Box Japan (Image Credits: eBay)

The 1960s saw Yano Man Toys develop this cymbal clapping monkey toy. It was contemporary with the iconic Musical Jolly Chimp. Pepi the Tumbling Monkey is tough to locate in excellent condition online and performs athletic stunts while banging his cymbals.

Magic Monkey

The Magic Monkey is a more modern take on the iconic chimp by Westminster Inc. This cymbal-banging monkey with a plastic face rolls along the floor while clapping his cymbals. It uses a battery to operate and also makes some monkey sounds.

Magic Monkey

Charley Chimp

Charley Chimp is a contemporary take on the traditional musical monkey. This modern toy is a near duplicate of the Musical Jolly Chimp, save that Charley Chimp is wearing a different outfit. Charley Chimp is a good option if you are searching for the original but cannot get one in functional condition.

It is set up with an astonishingly identical set of actions and sounds. But keep in mind that this is not the same as “Charlie the Chimp” (yes, the spellings are different).

What Is the Value of Your Monkey With Cymbals?

The worth of some vintage monkeys with cymbal toys stashed away in your basement could surprise you. However, you can avoid selling these toys for too little money by doing your study.

While vintage toys and collectibles like the original musical jolly chimp can fetch you up to $100 or more, the modern and newer versions can value between $10 to $40 and above.

The value or price of your toy may vary based on the condition and location. So the ones in good condition will fetch you more money than odd-looking ones. Also, the exchange of your currency can affect the value of your item.

But let us look at other means to determine the value of your old clapping cymbal monkeys.

Do an Online Search

Finding out how much an antique item is sold on an internet auction site is perhaps the most common—and generally reliable—way to estimate its value.

For example, you can search for sold posts of the retro toy on a website like eBay and carefully go through the results page to get a price for it. You can also use this method to check for sold listings quickly.

In addition, to gain a more accurate picture of the toy’s selling price, you may also check prices from online auction sites and compare with online shops like Amazon or Etsy.

However, there are several elements to consider when using this strategy. First, prices might fluctuate greatly depending on the toy’s condition and the sale season.

But if you take this strategy, anticipate that your product will sell for at least the mid-range pricing (if your item is also in the same shape). The good thing is that it will save you time and other expenses.

The state of your toy significantly affects its worth. Items that are brand new and unopened will always yield a more excellent value. If you are selling something online, being honest about the item’s quality will help you avoid too many complications.

Be sure the parts are complete with the features. Also, buyers can decide whether they accept your rating of the toy’s condition by looking at photos. Because of that, you should supply enough pictures.

Hire a Cymbal Banging Monkey Toy Appraiser

Hiring an appraiser is the most effective method for estimating a toy’s worth. However, the appraisal cost can significantly reduce your profit if the toy’s value is too low.

But, if you have a sizable collection, it can be a wise investment, particularly if you have a rare gem that only a qualified appraiser might find—the iconic jolly chimp.

The reason why items certified by appraisers are more costly than those not certified is that it takes an appraiser a long period to master how to value items effectively. Consequently, always hire certified appraisers.

Check Guides and Books

This medium is an excellent approach to obtaining a more precise figure, but because it takes time to produce a book, the listed values may change even after the book is available.

Nevertheless, most guide makers are professionals or, at the very least, fanatics of the community of vintage toy collectors. So the information they provide is usually well-researched, based on various market analyses, and to some extent, considers the wait time needed for book publishing.

Where to Buy or Sell Your Monkey With Cymbals?

Are you an enthusiast of an antique monkey with cymbals, and you are asking, “where can I buy a cymbal monkey?” Or were you throwing out old stuff from your basement and stumbled on a cymbal monkey you would like to sell?

Whether you are the seller or want to buy one for your collection, here are the places you can go to satisfy your purpose.

Online Auction and Stores

The internet is where sellers often meet collectors, and business booms smoothly. Listing on eBay or another auction website is frequently the first option people consider before doing anything else. It is the easiest route if you need cash right now.

However, ensure you scrutinize the costs involved with the auction site to ensure you are not wrong because not all of them are equal.

For instance, eBay charges you a percent based on the selling price, and that percentage is even added to the shipping cost. So, in essence, you are subsidizing the postage expense.

Online retailers like Amazon and others frequently specify a fixed fee and provide you with a shipping credit. As a result, you are immediately aware of what you will pay and gain if the sale occurs for the value posted. Besides, online stores are easy since you only need to login into your account.

Some popular online stores and auction shops where you sell or buy cymbal banging monkeys include:

Etsy: A well-known website with a simple, attractive interface is Etsy. All the items and their information are easily accessible on a single page, and the postings are replete with pictures. The website is also a gold mine of old toys.

Because most sellers appear to understand the value of their goods, business deals could be a little challenging. But, it is unquestionably one of the first websites you should explore if you need to find a specific item or want to complete your collection of retro items.

Endeavor to explore every nook and cranny of the website when you visit—for example, the community forum and apps.

eBay: For many reasons, eBay is a popular online auction site where you can sell retro toys. First, you can usually get a fair bargain because you’re going directly to collectors.

Secondly, the auction structure can increase the value of highly sort-after items and collections even above the average market value, which can help cover the site’s fees.

eBid: With over 10,000 sections and over 6 million postings, eBid is attempting to rival eBay. Since the procedure is similar to eBay’s, there isn’t much of a challenge. On this website, there are no fees for purchases.

However, sellers must first subscribe with a fee to list their goods, which appears to be much less expensive than eBay’s fees.

Finding and using the search features couldn’t be simpler. eBid’s online stores, like many other marketplaces, make shopping more effortless when you find a seller you like and add an item to your cart.

Yard Sales

Your traditional yard sale may still be beneficial even if you wish to sell various items.

You don’t need ships to transport far distances, nor do you need to bring your items to a store. Therefore, there is no inconvenience. Consider a yard sale if you have old cymbal banging monkeys that are valuable enough to join a collection.

Additionally, you can frequently access a market you might not have ordinarily: those who love to purchase offline instead of online.

Antique Shops and Private Collectors

Another means to sell or buy these fabulous yet creepy chimps is to look for antique shops near you or private collectors. This method is also convenient since you don’t need to ship anything, but it has some drawbacks.

First, your item may not get the valuation it’s worth. Second, you may find it hard to locate an antique shop quickly.

Bottom Line

The cymbal banging monkey created a stir like no other at the time of its release. Its appearance was a mix of fear and fun at the same time. However, the item can still fetch you extra cash after many years.

From the above discussions, we’ve highlighted some crucial ways facts about the animatronic monkey. But it is now up to you to decide what to do with it, whether to clean it up, fix it, and make it worthy of retro art to fetch you some cash or allow it to stash away in your attic.

Indeed, the toy monkey with cymbals is one of the most enduring and popular toys of all time. Though its origins are uncertain, the monkey is thought to date back to the Victorian era. It was likely inspired by real-life circus performers and was initially intended as a simple diversion for children.

Over time, however, the toy has come to represent something much more significant. For many people, the monkey with cymbals symbolizes fun and laughter. It reminds us of our childhoods and of the joys of simply being a kid.

In a world that can often be quite serious, the monkey with cymbals reminds us to stop and enjoy the ride. And that, in itself, is priceless.

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