What Is the History of the Coin Piggy Bank?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Piggy banks are still a popular way for children to save money.
Piggy banks are still a popular way for children to save money.

A coin piggy bank is a receptacle used to hold currency, usually in the form of coins. Early versions of the coin piggy bank featured a slit in the top of the unit in which money could be deposited, and in order to retrieve the money, the bank would need to be broken open. More modern versions feature a plastic plug that can be removed so money can be retrieved. The origins of this type of money storage unit are not completely clear, though many cultures throughout history have used such receptacles.

One of the more accepted origin stories of the coin piggy bank concerns a material known as pygg, which is a type of earthenware. During the middle ages, metal was expensive and scarce, so people often made pots and other necessary tools out of pygg. Storing money therefore fell to receptacles made of pygg as well, and the pygg boxes or pygg jars became prevalent. Over the years, the term "pygg bank" became common, and the association between pygg and the animal pig became clear. The form of the coin piggy bank was therefore born, and the purpose of the receptacle remained to store money.

Many cultures throughout history used the coin piggy bank in some form or another, though it is likely that the form was not of a pig. Other animals such as boars were common in some cultures, though most simply formed receptacles with less defined shapes. After the advent of the coin piggy bank shaped like a pig, the receptacles were often used to teach children how to save money and learn fiscal responsibility. Once the money went into the bank, it would be difficult to get it back out because the unit would have to be broken open.

In modern times, the coin piggy bank has largely become obsolete because of alternative savings methods used by parents to teach children how to save money. Bank accounts have become easier to open and maintain, and they have become much safer over the years as well. Some children may still use piggy banks, as they are still relatively easy to find in stores and fairly easy to make as well. More modern versions are often made from ceramic, plastic, metal, or even wood. Other versions may also be mechanized to sort the deposited money into separate slots for easier counting and retrieval for use.

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    • Piggy banks are still a popular way for children to save money.
      By: Brian Jackson
      Piggy banks are still a popular way for children to save money.