The invention of the piggy bank originated over 600 years ago in the 15th century when people would use pots to store what money they had. At that time, metal was an expensive commodity and not frequently used for household equipment.
Household items such as plates and pots were made from an affordable clay called ‘pygg’. During The Middle Ages, whenever folks could save an extra coin or two, they dropped it into one of their clay jars forged from the orange-coloured clay material.
These money containers were not as a matter of course made in the shape of pigs, but it seems at least one manufacturer soon thought it would be funny to do so!
It is believed that the popularity of the Western piggy banks came from Germany where pigs were revered as symbols of good fortune. The oldest German piggy bank dates to the 13th century and was recovered during construction work in Thuringia.
Ever wonder why children began to put money in a piggy bank? The decision to start making pig-shaped money boxes wasn’t random. In fact, animal-money symbolism has deep roots in myths and history from around the world.
When changes to the English language led to “pygg” being pronounced as “pig,” a play on words was born. In the 19th century, people began asking English potters to make their money jars into pig shapes—and thus, the modern piggy bank emerged.
As both words sounded the same, English potters would shape ‘pygg’ pots into the image of pigs to humour the description. This became a trend and people began to request the ‘pygg’ pots to be shaped like pigs. Over the next few hundred years people slowly forgot that ‘pygg’ referred to the clay. This became the norm in the 19th century when English potters would create pots shaped like pigs for people to use as a bank, humouring the origins of the word. This may have been accidental but has been used ever since and this is why we still use piggy banks today.