A “piggy bank” is a vessel where money can be inserted; it was originally shaped like a pig, but can be other animals and objects. “Pig bank” is cited in print from 1898 and became popular in the 1900s. “Piggie bank” is cited from at least 1914 and “piggy bank” from 1917.
It is claimed by some sources (such as Wikipedia) that “pig” comes from the word “pygg,” a type of clay. However, there are no contemporary citations of “pygg jar” or “pygg bank” around 1900. Historical evidence of these “pygg” terms does not appear to exist to support this “piggy bank” etymology.
The term “piggy bank” has also been used regarding an individual or group (a greedy “pig") who has ill-gotten gains—a private “piggy bank” that is far different from the child’s “piggy bank” of saved coins.
[This entry was prepared with research assistance from Fred Shapiro and Garson O’Toole (Quote Investigator) of the American Dialect Society—ed.]
Wikipedia: Piggy bank
Piggy bank (sometimes penny bank or money box) is the traditional name of a coin accumulation and storage receptacle; it is most often, but not exclusively, 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. Their shape is most often that of a little pig. Many financial services companies use piggy banks as logos for their savings products.
Piggy banks are typically made of ceramic or porcelain, and serve as a pedagogical device to teach the rudiments of thrift and savings to children; money can be easily inserted, but in the traditional type of bank the pig must be broken open for it to be retrieved. Most modern piggy banks, however, have a rubber plug located on the underside; others are made of vinyl and have a removable nose for easy coin access. Some piggy banks incorporate electronic systems which calculate the amount of money deposited.
Roman vase-shaped money box (2nd-3rd century AD). Ancient money boxes appear in the archaeological record in a wide variety of shapes. In Middle English, “pygg” referred to a type of clay used for making various household objects such as jars. People often saved money in kitchen pots and jars made of pygg, called “pygg jars”. By the 18th century, the spelling of “pygg” had changed and the term “pygg jar” had evolved to “pig bank.”
Once the meaning had transferred from the substance to the shape, piggy banks began to be made from other substances, including glass, plaster, and plastic.
The oldest find of a money box dates from 2nd century BC Greek colony Priene, Asia Minor, and features the shape of a little 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.
In a curious case of parallel evolution, the Indonesian term celengan (a celeng is a wild boar, with the “an” affix used to denote a likeness) was also used in the context of domestic banks. The etymology of the word is obscure, but evident in a Majapahit piggy bank from the 15 century A.D.
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 animal shapes, sizes and colours. Some collect piggy banks as a hobby.
Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary
Main Entry: piggy bank
: a coin bank often in the shape of a pig
(Oxford English Dictionary)
piggy bank, n.
[Apparently < PIGGY n.1 + BANK n.3, on account of its shape, although a connection with PIG n.2 also seems probable: compare pirlie pig at PIRLIE n. for earlier use of PIG n.2 in the name of a pot used as a money box. Compare PIGGY n.2
In the mid 20th cent. in Scots piggy also occurs (as adjective) in the sense ‘made of earthenware’ and (as noun) in the senses ‘earthenware or clay marble’ and ‘earthenware’: see Sc. National Dict. s.v. piggie n.2, v.1]
A money box, esp. one shaped like a pig; (fig.) savings, any supply of money.
Formerly, piggy banks were often made of earthenware with a slot for inserting coins, and had to be smashed in order to retrieve the savings inside.
[1913 Kresge’s Katalog 5 ¢ & 10 ¢ Merchandise (S. S. Kresge & Co.) 93/3 Pig Savings Bank 10c.]
1939 Long Beach (Calif.) Independent 16 Feb. 6 (advt.) Put the pennies saved into a piggy bank.
1955 A. HUXLEY Genius & Goddess 51 Ruth broke her piggy bank and squandered a year’s accumulated savings on a make-up kit and a bottle of cheap perfume.
31 March 1898, Jersey Journal (Jersey City, NJ), pg. 12, col. 1:
...consolation, a “silver pig” bank, Mr. Jeffreys Donahue.
27 September 1900, Kalamazoo (MI) Gazette, pg. 4:
The first prize, a bit of Mrs. Cole’s handiwork in the shape of a hand painted candle stick, was won by Miss Fannie Speyer, while Mrs. R. A. Crano was consoled with a china pig bank.
10 November 1900, Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. 12 ad:
The latest novelty—The Pig Bank. You have to kill the pig to get the money—25c each
(Lipman, Wolfe & Co.—ed.)
15 March 1901, Minneapolis (MN) Journal, pg. 7, col. 6 ad:
500 more Pig banks just in. One for each of your children will teach them to save. Saturday...5c
(New England Furniture and Carpet Co.—ed.)
10 May 1901, Cedar Rapids (IA) Evening Gazette, pg. 7, col. 4 ad:
Fancy Earthen Pig Banks...4c
1 September 1914, New York (NY) Herald, “Women Give Jewelry and Gems to Aid German Widows and Orphans,” pg. 15, col. 5:
Little Annie Scheuerberg, seven years old, of No. 878 Third avenue, walked into the bureau yesterday with a package under her arm. When asked what she wanted she replied that she desired to donate her “piggie bank” to the relief fund. The little “piggie” was broken open and a handful of pennies with a few nickels and dimes rolled out on the table.
11 June 1917, Baltimore (MD) Sun, pg. 12:
There are= 108 public schools in Baltimore. In seven of them children have mobilized their “piggy-bank” savings and bought bonds.
10 February 1918, Oregonian (Portland, OR), magazine, pg. 9, col. 3:
She shook all the coins out of the piggie bank, and after school went to the store.
The Way of the World
By Katherin von der Lin
Los Angeles, CA: Times Mirror Printing & Binding House
First the Piggy Bank, which for so long had been empty, and she felt that to make the Piggy satisfied it would have to have money in its belly.
6 December 1922, Albuquerque (NM) Journal, pg. 6:
I lov you dear Santy. I am sending you my pigy bank penies.
Maybe you haven’t a piggy bank and a little brother…
8 September 1927, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Main Street Mediations” by Eleanor Clarage, pg. 18, col. 5:
MONTREUX—If I were able to do justice to the beauty of this spot, I would send everybody rushing to the china piggy bank, to see how much they had toward the fare over here.
Google News Archive
6 April 1932, Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review, pg. 15, col. 1 ad:
Your pantry is well-stocked...your china piggy bank half-filled...when you GO THRIFTY with FISHER’S BISKIT MIX.
19 December 1935, Moulton (IA) Weekly Tribune, pg. 5, col. 6:
Please bring everyone who has an office account a “piggie bank” so they can save enough pennie to pay it.
12 January 1936, Zanesville (OH) Signal, pg. 6, col. 5:
Mother gave her grateful daughter
An empty piggy bank and…
New York City • Banking/Finance/Insurance • Tuesday, June 29, 2010 • Permalink