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The Evolution of the Piggy Bank

Updated on November 3, 2008

Majapahit terracotta piggy bank, 14-15 century A.D.

Trowulan, East Java(Collection of National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta)
Trowulan, East Java(Collection of National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta)

Traditional Piggy Bank

Mechanical Bank


When I saw this week's hub mob topic, I was absolutely giddy with delight. If there is one thing I have a lot to say about, it's saving money. I'm a Cancerian accountant...who married a Scotsman. Between the two of us we know how to hoard money, count money and be rather tight-fisted. Are we disgustingly rich due to our pecuniary ways? Hell, husband is only one quarter Scotsman with an equal portion of Irish blood. That means if any money is going to be spent, chances are it will be on beer.

Not having a conflict of interest in either my career choice or astrological sign, I still managed to hoard some money by confiscating the change from the washing machine. It's amazing how much change can accumulate in your car's change holder after a month of fast food runs through the drive-thru. It adds up.

Plus, all of the containers that my husband had been hoarding as a bachelor, now became half my property I added another four or five plastic jugs and jars of assorted coins, nuts, bolts, safety pins, tacks (ouch) and whatever detritus happened to be in his pockets at the time and was subsequently discarded into the nearest catch-all container at hand. The accountant in me was appalled at this lack of respect toward loose change. It must be organized!

And that's pretty much how my husband found me sitting in the middle of a lake of coins, gamely trying to sort every penny, nickel, dime and quarter and segregate them forever. Although my beloved scoffed at me, the call of counting was too strong of a lure to resist...due to his ethnic roots, you understand. With a beer in his hand, he squatted on a not too distant shore and began counting with me. It turned out to be a lot of fun. By the time we were done, impressed with how much we had already saved without knowing it, our hands were black. I had never realized how dirty money actually is until that moment.

While I own a couple of piggy banks, I don't use them for savings purposes. They're simply decorative in nature. Instead, I use plastic coffee cans or glass jars...whatever is available. In fact, I don't think I've ever used a traditional piggy bank for its intended purpose. When I was younger, I always wanted one of those mechanical banks. My cousin had two of them and I was always begging him to put in just one more penny. My favorite was the one that had a trap door and when you pressed a lever, this creepy hand skittered out until it had found the coin, directly in its path. The mechanism would then bring the hand back to the pit it had come from, dragging the coin as it retreated and with a metallic clatter, deposit it into the base of the bank.

While modern "piggy" banks occasionally mimic their old-fashioned counterparts, with the addition of technology they have about as much in common with them as the stone wheel does with the steel belted radial tire. Common ancestors, maybe...but that's it. I've taken the liberty to compile a few choices that exist today. Perhaps you'll be able to find one that inspires you to save, save, save!

Money Monster

Face Bank

The "Feed Me" Banks

As with the mechanical banks of earlier days, some of us still wish to be amused into saving money. These two choices, "The Face Bank" and the "Money Monster" will appeal to that childish need to be entertained. It will also appeal to most animal lovers as they will be unable to resist feeding the helpless mutant creatures.

Personally, "The Face" one is a bit on the creepy side and I think it would be markedly improved if they added a belching sound to indicate that the coin has been "consumed."

Bomb Bank

The "Save or Take the Money - What do I Care?" Banks

Okay...isn't it's a bomb.. Of all the banks I looked at, the concept behind this one has to be the most retarded I have ever come across. If you don't save on a consistent basis, it blows up. If you try to force it into giving you your money, it blows up. When it blows up, it disgorges the entire contents of its little bomb belly and spews coins all over the place. See the problem here? It discourages you to do anything BUT save money. The whole purpose of the thing would be to see it blow up...maybe once or twice...and then, I would think it would be rather annoying to have this nagging bank blow up just because you didn't drop a dime in now and then. I don't know about you, but I have a lot of more important things to do than to consistently pick up after a combustible coin container.

Bank of Life

The "Rich Man/Poor Man" Bank

When I first saw the name for this product, The Bank of Life, manufactured by the same folks that brought you the Tamagotchi virtual pet, I thought yeah, now you are talking. Of course, I'd just come back from looking at the bomb bank so I think that might have influenced my thought process. I figured that if the bank didn't think you were saving enough coin, somebody was going to die. Alas, that is not the motivation this small device inspires.

The goal is to save a certain amount of money. In the beginning, your wealth in the bank is reflected by the poverty of the little man on the screen, which is...You! He lives in a hovel and dresses shabbily. However, despair not, for as you accumulate more coins you may pimp out your little man and have him living a life of luxury in no time at all.

Brit ATM

Japanese ATM

The "Reality...Sort of" Bank

Remember playing house as you were growing up. Fisher Price was a champ at providing us with little shopping carts, vacuum cleaners, pots, pans and baby dolls. I believe they even came out with a preschool version of these two devices although it did not have quite the same level of sophistication.

There were many different models out there to choose from, however I found this infomercial and commercial give you a very good idea of how they operate. I rather liked the Japanese version, but only because the commercial was far cooler.

How long, do you think before they come up with a debit card for kiddies that can be used at the mall based upon the savings in their piggy banks? In all fairness though, it's not a bad teaching tool since it is, in my opinion, the one that closest approximates reality.

Alarm Bank

The "Hush Money" Bank

This one wouldn't last long on my bedside table. In college I once destroyed an alarm clock by yanking it out of the wall, screaming, "Duck! It's a BOMB!" before I launched it across the room, dashing it into a million pieces against the cinder block wall. In my defense, it was a very realistic dream and I eventually ended up saving the entire world...

The idea is to shut the alarm off by placating this ugly little box with a coin dropped into the appropriate slot. I don't think it would ever be something I would consider remotely entertaining that early in the morning. The video I've attached will pretty much give you an idea why...

The "Updated, Modern Piggy for the Techno Generation" Bank

While it might be fun to have a trendy little gadget that handles your spare change, sometimes it is the tried and true that we all fall back upon. Here, we have a modern pig...a plastic pig rather than the more traditional ceramic pig. Instead of one coin slot, however, this pig has four of them. There is one for savings, another for spending and one for donations. The final one though is rather odd, or so I thought. But then I thought of this kid...and it all made sense!

E-Trade Baby


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    • jrcemail profile image


      10 years ago

      The ATM Money Bank is SOOOOOO awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • washingtonson profile image


      12 years ago from Walhalla

      Thanx for the great Hub!

    • Dottie1 profile image


      12 years ago from MA, USA

      I loved it spryte. Really cool banks. You must have had fun with this one. Thanks.

    • spryte profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Sixtyorso: Year end, budget! Say no more, you have my complete sympathy. But I hope you have been inspired to write a hub! I'll be looking for it if you do.

      MM: It says so right here in my handy, dandy..."How to be a Cancerian" manual that I got whenI was born. *light goes on in head* I think I just had an idea for a hub! Perhaps your Cancerian has a conflict in his chart...yup...that has to be it. I bet one of those signs that are good at shopping is mixed up in there somewhere.

      Yeah...I can't figure out how I ended up being a bean counter either. My teachers all said I should be a Dad said it was a damn shame there wasn't a big demand for philosophers...and I went to college for petrochemical engineering. To be sure,it's a soul-sucking career if there every was one. Probably one step shy of an IRS agent. Luckily I work with truly crazy people so I don't have to be a business suit type of accountant. I go to work in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops.

      Countrywomen - Witty! You may have hit on something there...because I remember that as a child I wanted to be a fashion designer. So I guess ultimately I was destined to work with figures of one sort or another...

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      12 years ago from South Africa

      MM I think you might have inspired my hubmob topic for this week. Watch out coming soon to a hub near you!

    • countrywomen profile image


      12 years ago from Washington, USA

      A quick puzzle for Mighty MOM who just said "words and numbers were like mutually exclusive states of mind"

      What is common between an accountant and a fashion designer?





      (You got it they both work with figures) Now go figure.....LOL

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      12 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Where does it say Cancers are supposed to be good with money? Not my not-so-little Cancerian. He's a total spendthrift. And seriously, you're an accountant? Good Lord, woman! I thought words and numbers were like mutually exclusive states of mind. I'm totally impressed!

      Fun hub. Fresh take on what could have been a **yawn** topic.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      12 years ago from South Africa

      I too find savings a mundane subject. Have not yet been inspired to do something on this subject for hubmob. Also I have kind of busy. Year end coming up . Budget planning to do and preparation for a board (bored) meeting.

    • spryte profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Thanks Misty :) Piggy banks were the only thing I could relate to as I find the whole idea of saving money to be rather boring (although I do it).

      Nancy: Thanks to you too for dropping in and leaving a comment!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      12 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Funny hub Spryte, well done. I used to have one of those coffin money boxes where the skeletal hand came out and dragged the coin back inside. It really cool! :)

    • spryte profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Countrywomen: LOL! I don't know if Hollywood has a rating system in place that would forewarn the general public of any movie that was created by Shadesbreath's imagination...much less mine! Hehehe! But it is funny to think about :)

    • countrywomen profile image


      12 years ago from Washington, USA

      I sure hope your uncontrollable dreaming doesn't endup being a nightmare for you and others....LOL. Btw have you considered applying for the post of story writer for Hollywood. If you(with your vivid imagination) and shades(and his Alfred Hitchcock kinda twist to any scenario) teamup I am sure we all can see very interesting movies..hehe

    • spryte profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Oops...forgot to respond to my own damn hub comments :) Sorry about that folks!

      I don't know if the terracotta piggy bank is such a wise investment, Chris. It looks like it has already been smashed open a few times and would therefore be considered a huge financial risk. :)

      Guidebaba - Thank you!

      Ajcor - Hehehe! I don't really have an answer for you regarding the e-baby, but I know I've felt a bit nauseous about the market lately. Perhaps I'll just keep my jars of change right were I can see them for a while longer...

      Lissie - Orfay uresay!

      Countrywomen - Oooh! I hadn't thought about the potential for being considered a domestic or international terrorist due to uncontrollable dreaming. And I've always slept so well on I'll have to be more careful (and paranoid).

      Sixtyorso - Well that explains a lot (the Cancerian part)! *Gives you the secret crabperson handshake*

      Bob - Yeah, those fancy-schmancy piggy bank things are notorious for trying to lure the true saver into parting with their money. Don't fall for it...those jars work just fine!

      Shade - That alarm one with the hammer had me squealing with laughter. Although I was wondering who keeps a hammer beside their bed. Yeah...the old ball and chain has his own idea of savings and I can tell right where it is every time I pat his comfortable beer belly :)

      Thanks to all for coming by and commenting!

    • Shadesbreath profile image


      12 years ago from California

      God, the first time I saw that E-trade commercial, I had gone to bed late, around midnight, and was watching the news quietly while my wife slept peacefully before her long day the next day. Then that commerical came on and I started laughing so frickin' hard, I couldn't stop, and she woke up and was like, "WTF, shut up, I'm trying to sleep," and I tried so hard to stop laughing, but I kept seeing that little face barfing, and thinking "Whoa" to myself, and I just couldn't shut up for like ten minutes. Tried to stifle my noise, but my body was shaking I was laughing and I think my wife got really close to stabbing me to death. The only thing that saved me was that she didn't have a knife and she was too tired to go downstairs and get one.

      I lol'ed @ the alarm one. The video is so lame, it's funny.

      Nice job on this, your wit, as always, is a joy, and somehow you managed to make a mundane object into a great read. Nice work, Spryte. (Oh, and tell your old man, I think he's making the right financial decisions too.)

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      12 years ago from New Brunswick

      Better looking piggy banks than the jars I use,good hub and a fun read.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      12 years ago from South Africa

      Great Hub Spryte BTW I am a cancerian, part Irish. Go figure!

    • countrywomen profile image


      12 years ago from Washington, USA

      Nice hub. Btw don't go to sleep on planes otherwise who knows you maybe taken to task by skymarshall for yelling "It's a BOMB!" LOL

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      12 years ago from New Zealand

      Cool hub: piggies rule!

    • ajcor profile image


      12 years ago from NSW. Australia

      enjoyable hub Spryte - love the money boxes - a small query though - does the e trade baby have an ongoing problem with investing or do you think it is just a temporary thing stemming from today's financial crises - along the lines of "a chuck a day keeps the dollars at bay"?. cheers

    • guidebaba profile image


      12 years ago from India

      Nice one spryte.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      12 years ago from St. Louis

      This was a very entertaining hub. My favorites are the "feed me" banks. They are totally cool. And if you're lucky, you'll get just enough money into them in time to buy new batteries to run them. Of course, mechanical banks, especially vintage ones, are always great. Of them all though, I'll take the top one, the majahapit terracotta one. Do you know where I can get my hands on one? Besides Jakarta? You'll definitely wind up with some extra money with that one!

      Nice job, Spryte!


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