Piggy bank (sometimes penny bank or money box) is the traditional name of a coin container normally used by children. The piggy bank is known to collectors as a "still bank" as opposed to the "mechanical banks" popular in the early 20th century. These items are also often used by corporations for promotional purposes. The use of the name 'piggy bank' gave rise to its widely recognized 'pig' shape, and many financial services companies use piggy banks as logos for their savings products.
Piggy banks are usually made of ceramic or porcelain. They are generally painted and serve as a pedagogical device to teach the rudiments of thrift and savings to children; money can be easily inserted. Many piggy banks have a rubber plug located on the underside; others are made of vinyl and have a removable nose for easy coin access. Some incorporate electronic systems which calculate the amount of money deposited. Some piggy banks do not have an opening besides the slot for inserting coins, which will lead to smashing the piggy bank with a hammer or by other means, to obtain the money within.
Pygg is an orange colored clay commonly used during the Middle Ages as a cheap material for pots to store money, called pygg pots or pygg jars. There is dispute as to whether "pygg" was simply a dialectal variant of "pig." By the 18th century, the term "pig jar" had evolved to "pig bank". As earthenware was supplanted by other materials, such as glass, plaster, and plastic, the name gradually began to refer specifically to the shape of the bank, instead of what was used to make it.
The oldest Western find of a money box dates from 2nd century BC Greek colony Priene, Asia Minor, and features the shape of a miniature Greek temple with a slit in the pediment. Money boxes of various forms were also excavated in Pompeii and Herculaneum, and appear quite frequently on late ancient provincial sites, particularly in Roman Britain and along the Rhine.
The Javanese and Indonesian term cèlèngan (literally "likeness of a wild boar", but used to mean both "savings" and "piggy bank") is also used in the context of domestic banks. The etymology of the word is obscure, but evident in a Majapahit piggy bank from the 15th century. Several boar-shaped piggy banks have been discovered at the large archaeological site surrounding Trowulan, a village in the Indonesian province of East Java and possible site of the capital of the ancient Majapahit Empire. These are probably the source of the Javanese-Indonesian word referring to savings or money containers. Another Javanese-Indonesian synonym for savings is tabungan, which derives from the word for "tube" or "cylinder". This arises from another method of making coin containers by using a portion of enclosed bamboo segment completed with a slit into which coins are inserted. One important Majapahit piggy bank specimen is housed at the National Museum of Indonesia. It has been reconstructed, as this large piggy bank was found broken into pieces. Majapahit terracotta coin containers have been found in a variety of shapes, including tubes, jars and boxes, each with a slit into which to insert coins.
The general use of piggy banks is to store loose change in a quaint, decorative manner. Modern piggy banks are not limited to the likeness of pigs, and may come in a range of shapes, sizes and colors. As locked money boxes with a narrow opening to drop cash or coins, they are most commonly used by temples and churches. The box is opened via a plug underneath it at regular intervals, when the collected money is counted and recorded.
Famous piggy banks
Rachel, the unofficial mascot of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, is a bronze cast piggy bank that weighs nearly 600 pounds (270 kg), located at the corner of Pike Place under the "Public Market Center" sign. Rachel was designed by local artist Georgia Gerber.
The Disney/Pixar movies Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 feature a character named Hamm, a wisecracking, animated piggy bank voiced by John Ratzenberger.
The Price Is Right pricing game Any Number uses a piggy bank icon to represent the game's consolation prize, that amount in dollars and cents.
Let's Make a Deal has a game, "Smash for Cash," in which a contestant asks announcer Jonathan Magnum to smash piggy banks. A contestant who earns enough cash ($1, $2, or Zonks in each piggy bank) can win a cash bonus of $20,000, but cannot find both Zonks. In the version hosted by Monty Hall, one of the three doors in the day's Big Deal sometimes hid "Monty's Piggy Bank," which contained a cash award.