Piggy banks get their name from an orange-colored clay called pygg, which was used in the Middle Ages to make jars for storing staples such as salt. Sometime in 18th-century England, these jars had morphed into hollow containers with a coin slot, often shaped like a pig to make a visual pun on the name of the clay.

To retrieve the coins inside, one would have to smash the jar, which is why so few of these early pig jars, as they were known, have survived. In more modern times, removable plugs have spared piggy banks and made them the fun collectible they are today.

In the first part of the 20th century, ceramics manufacturers as prestigious as Belleek, Delft, and Quimper made piggy banks. Numerous Staffordshire, England potteries also made piggy banks. In the 1920s, the Ellgreave Pottery Company of Burslem produced its bow-tied Mr. Pig banks. Some had coin slots on the back of the head; others had slots along the front part of the pig’s shoulder.

After the war, other Staffordshire potteries began to produce piggy banks, including Studio Szeiler, which became world famous in the 1950s for its tiny earthenware animal figurines, as well as its low-to-the-ground piggy banks, which were glazed in white with patches of tan or blue. Around the same time, George Wade & Sons created its round, Smiling Pig banks, which ranged in color from pastel green to bone white with delicate blue flowers.

Before Beswick was sold to Royal Doulton in 1969, it made a cigar-chomping high-rolling porker of a piggy bank, whose surface appeared drawn in graphite or colored pencil before being glazed. Finally, in the 1970s, James Sadler & Sons created cute little piggy banks that were decorated with kilts, overalls, and traditional caps.

Meanwhile, in The Netherlands, production potters in Makkum and Workum made souvenir piggy banks for the post-war tourist trade. Polish and Hungarian potters sold their piggy banks in department stores such as Vroom & Dreesman. Also inexpensive were the Mexican piggy banks, which were made of a very lightweight ware and featured a handle on their banks.

In the United States, piggy banks marched down the cute path and never looked back. From the 1930s on, American Bisque Company and American Pottery Company produced countless figural character piggy banks using slip-mold production techniques. Invariably, the animals created for these piggy banks had long eyelashes and big smiles, whose corners ended in a crevice of rosy cheeks. Betty and Floyd were two early, highly collectible ABC banks...

Brush Pottery was another piggy-bank producer. Known for its cookie jars and lawn ornaments, its piggy-bank heyday was the 1950 and ’60s, when it made several variations of pigs in tuxedoes. Frankoma made piggy banks, as did Gonder Art Pottery of Zanesville, Ohio—its Sheriff piggy bank with a badge that reads "Money Guard" is especially collectible. Hull Pottery made dime banks with almost-round bodies and pastel glazes, while its famous Corky banks had corks in their noses (a pull-ring in the cork allowed an impatient child to get at his or her dimes in a hurry).

Maddux of California made banks that depicted running puppies, costumed bears, and, of course, pigs, and McCoy produced banks in the shape of Santa heads (the coin slot was in his red cap). McCoy also made countless coin containers that were given away by small-town or regional banks.

Because of their cartoonish appearance, piggy banks were naturally used as three-dimensional canvases for cartoon and children’s characters. Shawnee made a Howdy Doody bank in 1950 for one year until it was ordered to cease and desist due to copyright infringement—these banks are thus highly collectible. ABC made banks depicting Fred and Wilma Flintstone, as well as many Disney characters.

There were Popeye banks, Muppets banks, Peanuts banks, and banks featuring the main characters from The Wizard of Oz. In the 1940s, Superman banks were produced; in the 1960s it was Batman and Robin’s turn. In the 1980s, McDonald’s banks ranged from Ronald’s head to a ceramic version of the trademark McDonald’s sack. And by the 1990s, video-game heroes Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and Bowser would also be immortalized in ceramic piggy banks.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Piggy Banks and Famous Potteries

Piggy Banks and Famous Potteries

Roger Owen's showcase of over 180 beautiful 20th century British and European piggy banks, with background on their… [read review or visit site]

Picos Pigs

Picos Pigs

This stunning and well-catalogued collection of toy piggy banks, put online by Flavio Del Greco and Alvise Felici (… [read review or visit site]

Old Fashioned Piggy Banks

Old Fashioned Piggy Banks

Gert Deelman's site showcases a wonderful and diverse collection of clay and porcelain piggy banks from Europe, U.K… [read review or visit site]

PinballHQ.com

PinballHQ.com

An enormous database focusing on pinball machines and other arcade games from the 1930s and on, from a collector wh… [read review or visit site]

National Carousel Association

National Carousel Association

Since 1973, the National Carousel Association has been dedicated to preserving and restoring carousels and carousel… [read review or visit site]

International Arcade Museum

International Arcade Museum

This site boasts more than 13,000 pages of educational content on arcade and coin-op collecting, including innumera… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Mid Century Modern Baldelli Pottery Ceramic Italy Orange Piggy Bank Owl Rare Vintage Cast Iron Amos Taxi Driver Piggy Bank- Amos & AndyDisney Store Toy Story Collection Hamm Piggy Bank2002 Harley Davidson Motorcycle Ceramic Gas Tank Hog Coin Piggy Bank Hull Pottery Pig 196 Perfect Pink Cork Coin Piggy BankVintage Green Hull Pottery 1957 Corky Pig Piggy BankAntique Cast Iron Popeye Piggy Bank Star Wars Gamorrean Guard Piggy Bank - Vintage*wow* John Maltby Studio Pottery Piggy / Money Bank MadrigalVintage Sterling Silver Piggy Bank & Penny Coin Charm Signed1991 Vintage Batman Returns Bank Dc Comics Plastic Piggy Coin Mint In BoxRoyal Albert Old Country Roses Piggy Pig Bank With Applied Roses, MintVintage Cast Iron Advertising Piggy Bank Norco Foundry & Specialty Co PottsvilleAntique Cast Iron Smiling Piggy Pig Still Bank Unique (l)Vintage Amber Carnival Glass Piggy Bank - Small The Walking Dead Piggy/coin Bank ZombieVintage 2 Piece Silver Metal Pig Piggy Bank Screws Together Vintage Minnesota Vikings Helmet Piggy BankVintage Brush Mccoy Pig Piggy Bank UniqueFeed Me I'm A Fat Pig Ceramic Pink Piggy Bank Money Bank Box - Home Decor GiftVintage Circus Clown W/ Top Hat Ceramic Coin Piggy Bank - Great Condition!Tiffany & Co. Company Porcelain Elephant Piggy Bank Newborn Gift Made In ItalyVintage Glass Jar Piggy Bank Jas. H. Forbes Tea & Coffee Co. St. Louis, Missouri2 Sets Of Hello Kitty Piggy BankJapan Figure Anime Manga Unknown Character Piggy Bank(100Chess Coin Piggy Bank Rook Tower Game Piece Save Money Wood Wooden Light NaturalVintage Corky Piggy Bank Pig - 1957 Hull Pottery - No Chips Or CracksMechanical Bits & Pieces "trick Dog" Cast Iron Piggy Bank With ClownVey Nice Belleek China Piggy Bank Porcelain 1955 In Box Look RareArcade Cast Iron Antique Vintage Rabbit Bank Hubley Old Piggy Sitting OldHot Cool Ninjago Piggy Bank Abs Metarial Money Bank Anime Cosplay BlackMr. Bubbles Vintage Character Pink Plastic Piggy Bank - RareCoin Counter Football Sports Counting Digital Money Piggy Bank W/ Cheering SoundCute! Cartoon Yellow Minion Plastic Piggy Bank For Saving Money Childkid Gift Car Coin Counter Counting Cup Electronic Digital Money Change Piggy Bank Blue FsCute Hello Kitty Ceramic Coin/ Piggy Bank - Butterfly - Brand New PinkPuzzle Game Toys Money Maze Coin Saving Holder Gift Box Piggy Bank Random ColorPink Digital Car Coin Counter Lcd Display Automatic Money Jar Change Piggy BankPeanuts Belle Piggy BankVintage Huge Libbey 5 Gallon Glass Pig Bank-jar This Little Pig Went To Market Elvis Piggy BankWhen Pigs Fly - White Cast Iron Piggy BankVintage Robie Robotic Robot Banker Mechanical Coin Piggy Bank Radio Shack 80'sMonster Republic Bunny Bandit Piggy Bank Robber Tee 5Vintage Acey Arctic Circle Drive In Resturaunt Chicken Cowboy Piggy BankDisney Frozen Snow Globe, Cup W/straw, And Tin Piggy BankDisney Frozen Snow Globe, Cup W/straw, And Tin Piggy BankVintage Piggy Bank With Labeled Parts 8" Long 4" TallDisney Store Exclusive Toy Story Hamm Ham The Piggy Bank Pig Plush Doll 13"Baseball Sports Coin Counting Digital Counter Money Piggy Bank W/ Cheering SoundVintage 1960's Chalkware Hootie Owl Piggy Bank Made In JapanVtg Raggedy Ann Doll Piggy Coin Money Bank My Toy Co 1972 Bobbs Merrill Co IncVintage Pvc Vinyl Popeye Sweet Pea Coin Piggy BankChase Piggy Bank - Purple - Holds Coins And Paper Money. Empties From Bottom.Disney Pixar Toy Story Large Hamm Piggy Bank Signature Collection Replica Rare Pink & White Large Ceramic Piggy Bank! New In Box!! Very Cute Vintage Porco Chalkware Large Pig Coin Bank 1950's- 1960's W/handleJuliska Piggy Bank In Gift Box Brand New Angry Birds Piggy Bank Green PigMud Pie Baby Boy Blue Initial Ceramic Polka Dot Piggy Bank With Letter B