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Piggy Banks - A Short History

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    Piggy Banks - A Short History

    By Ron Askotzky

    After selling piggy banks for more than a year in suddenly dawned on me, why are they called piggy banks? What does a pig have to do with saving money? A pig would be the last animal you'd associate with saving! Why not bunny banks or doggy banks and for that matter, why an animal at all?! Additionally, piggy bank sounds like it was intended as a child's item as how many adults would use a piggy bank for collecting change?

    To satisfy my curiosity I did some piggy bank research and have learned some interesting things and thought I would share them with you.

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    As you well know, many, particularly ceramic, piggy banks do not have an opening to remove the money. Now why is that? The theory goes that this is to serve as a lesson in finances for children. The piggy bank enables a child to save his money but forces him to justify its spending as in order to access the money he needs to break his piggy bank. This lesson seems to have been forgotten by many adults! Maybe we should keep a piggy bank in our front foyer and deposit our loose change as we come home each day! I digress...

    The question still remains, why is it called a piggy bank and why is it in the shape of a pig?

    One theory is that just as it was common to purchase a piglet and feed it with scraps until it was finally ready for slaughter, so too we feed our piggy bank with small change ("scraps") until it is full and then break it to reap the rewards of our investment. According to this, the piggy bank would also be appropriate for adults.

    A more popular theory is that, in fact, the original piggy bank had absolutely nothing to do with a pig! In the Middle Ages, when metal was expensive, an inexpensive, orange colored clay, called pygg, was the common media for making pots and jars, and was referred to as a pygg jar, for example. One of these jars was often used to hold coins. Eventually, the pygg jar or pygg bank used for coins, surely accidentally, became known as a pig bank or piggy bank! The general consensus is that this evolution transpired a few hundred years ago in England when crafters were hired to make pygg banks and not being familiar with pygg they made pig shaped banks.

    The oldest recorded piggy bank in the shape of a pig is claimed to be 1500 years old from Indonesia. If this is so, it precedes the pygg theory by around 1000 years! Perhaps there was some connection between the pig and saving money in that culture but it seems to have not influenced Western culture, where the modern piggy bank only evolved from pygg clay just a few hundred years ago.

    Understandably, the piggy bank is not popular in all cultures. The pig is considered an impure animal according to the Old Testament and hence is not owned, eaten nor benefited by Jews. Similarly, Islam forbids the eating of pork due to being impure. Hence, one would not expect to find too many piggy banks in Muslim countries and in homes of those of the Jewish and Muslim faiths.

    The modern piggy bank, whether made from ceramics, plastic, beads or metal, has been a very popular collector's item and gift for children due to its appealing and humorous appearance. In addition to the smile or chuckle we experience each time we drop some change into our piggy bank let us be reminded by the lesson it teaches us!

    By the way, the famous phrase, "break the bank", has nothing to do with the piggy bank!

    ******************
    Ron Askotzky is co-founder of <a href="http://www.wow-imports.com/" rel="nofollow">Wow! Imports</a>. Visit Wow! Imports to see handmade wire and glass bead piggy banks from Africa in addition to a full range of beaded animal figurines, beaded key chains, beaded flatware, beaded Christmas tree ornaments and much more!

    #2
    Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

    The best "Piggy Bank" I had as a child was called a "Dracular's Bank".
    You put the coin on a slot and then waited.

    Terrible noises were accompanied by the lid of the "bank" opening slightly as a hand came out ever so slowly .... then grabbed the coin and the lid slammed shut.

    I'm not so sure it was an economic investment as we spent a lot of pocket money on batteries and as soon as the coins were gone we'd open up the bottm and get them out again.

    Who else has a good Piggy Bank Story?

    Enjoy Your Money
    The Budget Man

    When you want to enjoy your money www.PersonalityBudgeting.com the home of fun solutions.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

      Asians have the "money cat". It's essentially the same as a piggy bank, but is a ceramic cat instead. I do not know the story behind it though.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

        i always liked the concept of a money cat. a piggy bank for some reason carried visions of gluttony for me..

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History



          Wikipedia: "Money Cat"

          Amazon: Money Cat (Lucky Cat)

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

            Hehe. Kind of embarassing that I didn't think of checking Wiki first.

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

              I had a ceramic yellow dog bank and a red safe with a combination lock. I think all children should have a bank of some sort...just to reinforce the idea of saving.
              My other blog is Your Organized Friend.

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

                I remember that when I was a child I had a piggy bank. I don't remember if it was exactly in the form of a pig, though. But now I have a real piggy bank. I got it as a present an year and a half ago and it is already full.

                I managed to count the money without breaking it. It is so nice that I simply can't break it. But I did the same trick as I used to do with my piggy banks when I was a child - pulling out all teh coins - one by one! A tricky job, and it takes time - and a thin pen filler to steer the coins to the opening with.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

                  I had a frosted gold colour piggy bank when
                  I was a kiddo.

                  I used to look for empty soda and beer bottles
                  with my brother. Then we went to the store and
                  got money for them.

                  It was a thrill for me to put the coins into the
                  piggy bank.

                  I remember one Easter, I opened it up to take
                  the coins out to buy a chocolate chicken for my
                  mom and a chocolate fish for my dad.

                  Ah! Memories!

                  Marie

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

                    Originally posted by creditcardfree
                    I had a ceramic yellow dog bank and a red safe with a combination lock. I think all children should have a bank of some sort...just to reinforce the idea of saving.
                    I agree. When children get money direct debited into their accounts they don't see it physically.

                    Enjoy Your Money
                    The Budget Man

                    www.PersonalityBudgeting.com
                    Where you discover how to budget easily

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Piggy Banks - A Short History

                      Just had an old peanut butter jar when I was a kid. I kept it under the bed!

                      Comment

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