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Why a 'Piggy' Bank?

By Nancy M. Kendall / July 31, 1997



Pigs are not known for their thrift. But piggy banks have been fixtures on children's dressers for generations. What is the connection between piggy banks and pigs?

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There is none. But there is a connection between piggy banks and clay. During the Middle Ages in England, metal was rarely used in household items. It was too costly. Instead, dishes, pots, and jars were made from an economical substance that could be easily shaped and hardened: a clay known as "pygg."

Frugal homemakers saved what they could in a pot or jar made of pygg. Soon that container for savings became known as the "pyggy bank." Over time, however, the origin of the name was lost. Nineteenth-century British potters who knew the name but not its origin began producing pig-shaped money boxes for customers. In no time the modern-day piggy bank (shaped like a pig) had caught on.