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    

Hand Painted Zebra Piggy Bank "midget" Bank Safe Combination Lock Money Box Or Piggy Bank, 1930'sNeat Old Original Cast Iron Pig Mechanical Penny Bank C.1920'sNice Old Cast Home Bank Piggy Bank Very Nice!Cute Old Cast Iron Small Pig Still Penny Bank By Arcade 1910 - 1932Antique Yelloware Creamware Pig Bank Made In Austria Blended Glaze Piggy BankHarley Davidson Motorcycle 95th Anniversary Ceramic Piggy Bank! Nr!Frozen Olaf Snowman Pvc Piggy Bank Money Box New 1pcs Hot1957 Hull Pottery Green & White Corky Pig Piggy Bank Nice Condition No Cork Hull Pottery Corky Pig Piggy Bank W StopperAc Spark Plug Promo Bank/huge/stands 30"/pop Art/advert/vtg/intact/rare PiggyPorky Pig Cast Iron Bank By HubleyShawnee Pottery Company, Howdy Dowdy On A Pig, BankVintage Large Solid Brass Piggy Bank PigVintage Retro Sterling Silver Piggy Bank Pig Money Box Bracelet Charm Opens Salmon Falls Stoneware Pottery Piggy BankMickey Mouse Rubber Money Box Piggy Bank Illco Vintage Walt DisneyLondon Red Telephone Box Diecast Metal Money Coins Phone Piggy Bank Phone Booth Vintage Retro Sterling Silver Cute Money Bank Pig With Coin Bracelet Charm Franciscan Ware Desert Rose Piggy Bank NiceToy Dog Mechanical Bank Antique Cast Iron Barrel Circus Clown Man Old Piggy BankVintage Book Of Knowledge Paddy And The Pig Cast Iron Mechanical Bank Toy Gift Large Harley Davidson Hog Piggy Bank Gas Tank Ceramic Vintage Chicken Feed Sack Piggy Bank Ceramic Rooster 4.75" Tall W/ StopperNice Old Cast Iron Building Piggy Bank Very Nice!Disney Frozen Elsa Light & Sound Musical Piggy Bank Plays Let It GoSlot Machine Piggy BankHallmark Baby Snoopy Piggy BankVintage 1960's Clear Glass Peanuts Snoopy Dog Coin Piggy Bank Schultz Hot Creative Piggy Bank Itazura Kitty Cat Steal Money Coin Box Piggy Bank HyspVintage Tiffany & Co Blue And White Polka Dot Piggy Coin Bank For Baby NurseryFranciscan Apple Pig BankDisney Store Exclusive Toy Story 3 Hamm Large Ceramic Piggy Bank Rare 11"Original Antique Figural Cast Iron Norco Pig Piggy Still Bank AdvertisingVintage Louisville Slugger Miniature Baseball Bat Coin Or Piggy Bank Mlb TeamsMint Condition Vintage Banthrico Key Lock Safe Box Toy Still Building Piggy BankOld Original Cast Iron Seated Pig Still Penny Bank By A.c. Williams 1910 - 1934Vintage Greeting Card Christmas Santa Claus Piggy Bank Coin Money Holder E620Vintage Cast Metal Horse Piggy Bank W/key And Keyway Stopper PlatedLittle Tikes Pig Piggy Bank Blue Retired Great ShapeVintage Greeting Card Christmas Norcross Piggy Bank 1960s Dime Holder E720Vintage Tin Coin Box W/handle Piggy Bank Metal Dancing Children Asian With KeyAdorable Tiffany & Co White Pink Polka Dot Bunny Rabbit Piggy Bank Vintage Cast Iron Pig Bank-white Pig Laying Down-rare!Original Antique Figural Cast Iron Realistic Fat Pink Pig Piggy Still Bank Seated Pig Cast Iron Still Coin Bank By A.c.williams C. 1910-1934Vintage Corky Pig Bank Hull? Shawnee?Vintage Cast Iron Wise Pig Thrifty BankVintage 1968 Ceramic Snoopy Piggy Bank. Made In Italy - QuadrifoglioVintage Hull Pottery Corky Pig Piggy Bank Brown Pink 1957Vintage Occupied Japan Miniature Ceramic Porcelain Fish Piggy BankVintage Cast Iron Santa Claus Coin Piggy Bank Christmas Santa Metal FigurineVintage Small Carnival Iridescent Marigold Glass Piggy Bank Anchor HockingVintage Piggy Bank ~ Ceramic ~ Barber Shop Quartet Man ~ New Creative Piggy Bank Itazura Kitty Cat Steal Money Coin Box Piggy Bank StgtCeramic Piggy Bank All White With Stopper~8" Long 7 1/2" Tall~must See!!!!Hull Pottery Corky Pig Coin Bank W/ Cork Stopper 1957 Blue, White & PinkVintage 1957 Hull Hp Pottery Corky Pig Piggy Bank - Original Cork Exc. Cond.Vintage Original Multi-color Hp Co Ceramic Pottery Cork Piggy Bank 1957 GlossAnchor Hocking Piggy Bank