A still bank describes any type of money box, strong box, or receptacle designed to receive and store coins. The most famous type of still bank is the piggy bank, which gets it name from an orange-colored clay called pygg, but many more still banks came in all sorts of shapes—from houses to bureaus to the busts of presidents.
One of the most common types of still banks in early-19th-century America was made out of redware. Few of these jug-shaped banks have survived to the 21st century, though, and those that have tend to be pretty dinged up. Chalkware banks from this period are also rare due to their fragility, but stoneware banks from the mid-1800s have fared better.
Cast iron and painted tin were other favored 19th-century materials for still banks. One prominent manufacturer of the day was J. & E. Stevens Company of Connecticut. While the company produced numerous mechanical banks, it also made lots of still ones, often in the shapes of safes. Famous buildings were another popular form, from Philadelphia’s Masonic Temple made by Smith & Egge to New York City’s Flatiron Building made by the Kenton Toy Co.
In the 1900s, banks resembling Indians, presidents, and prominent public figures appeared frequently. The Arcade Manufacturing Co. of Illinois is today famous for its Eggman Bank, which resembled President William Howard Taft. In the 1920s, A. C. Rehberger made brass banks formed from the busts of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Lindbergh. During the Depression, Kenton Hardware produced a copper-toned “New Deal” bank made from the head of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The ’30s were also when advertising still banks began to appear widely. For example, General Electric encouraged people to save for its refrigerators with banks that resembled them.
During World War II, numerous still banks were made to help people contribute their spare change to the war effort. The Bubble Bank featured a two-sided cutout of Uncle Sam within a glass globe—coins were slid through a slot in the top of the globe. Green plaster banks in the shapes of navy destroyers were used for the Victory Ship Banks made by the Novelty Manufacturing Co. of New York. There were even pig-shaped papier-mâché banks, with Hitler mustaches painted below their snouts—the words “Save for Victory, Make him Squeal” were impressed on the top of these banks around the coin slots.
Finally, in the 1950s and ’60s, cartoon characters became fun ways to get kids to save their nickels and dimes. One of the most popular newspaper comics of the day was “Peanuts” by Charles Schultz. Some 40 different “Peanuts” banks were produced, including a ceramic bank of Snoopy lying on his back—not on his doghouse, but on a hot dog.