Whatever happened to little personal banks?


Coin banks. Piggy banks. Do children have them anymore?

I was a lucky kid, in that my father’s family pharmacy, was located in the Michigan Avenue National Bank in Chicago, and there were all sorts of promos in the forms of coin banks. My fave was a solid metal bank, in the shape of a Neo-Classical building. Yes, they were exercises in instilling a savings impulse among children.

Although I can see, a la search engines, that the piggy bank exists as a genre still, I wonder if a child could take them seriously anymore. Do children save? (Does Jesus save?)

I can remember saving up for things I wanted. But the wants are now for high-ticket items. How big could a coin bank be to save for an Ipod?

Does a child turn to parents in shape of a credit-card, instead?

Of interest, to me at least, is the origin of the term “piggy bank.”

n 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.” [3]

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.[2]

Majapahit terracotta piggy bank, 14-15 century A.D. Trowulan, East Java. (Collection of National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta)

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.[citation needed]

An alternative theory of the etymology of the Piggy Bank is that in ancient times, scraps of food, and food that would otherwise spoil, could be “saved” and/or “invested” (and to an extent “recycled”) by being fed to the domestic pig and in doing so fattening the pig for subsequent eating or sale. As pigs eat such a variety of foods in so many conditions, the strategy paid off for peoples in all continents and the strategy was passed on from generation to generation. Then when money was introduced into society, the already firmly established cultural habit of saving food scraps by depositing them in the pig was then supplemented, and in more developed/urban societies was supplanted, by the saving of scraps of money rather than food in the piggy bank.[citation needed


11 Responses to “Whatever happened to little personal banks?”

  1. artemis54 Says:

    Tea egging.

    Upon my return, we were again plagued by an excess of food, including eggs. So I’m trying this tea egg recipe. Boiled the eggs for a bare four minutes, then took them out and carefully cracked the shells. Then returned them to the same water to which had been added three quarters cup of soy sauce, three tea bags, a little sugar, a couple slices ginger, and a bunch of orange peel. Left on low heat for another ten minutes, then it’s all going in the fridge overnight here pretty quick. Who the hell knows, but they will look nice at least.

  2. artemis54 Says:

    Auto-da-fé: Keith Farnish conducts a public burning of his own writing.

  3. cometman Says:

    I still have one. I save all my change in an old Patron tequila bottle and when it gets full I roll it up and deposit it in my savings account.

    It’s my retirement plan. So far I can afford about a day and a half of retirement.

  4. artemis54 Says:

    From our No, Duh file:

    World Will Miss 2010 Target To Stem Biodiversity Loss

    As BirdLife International commented some time back, we are barely on track to meet the 2010 goals by 2110, which might be a tad late for most of the biodiversity at issue. It might have something to do with the fact that the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity have done virtually nothing but issue impenetrable jargon ridden statements.

  5. artemis54 Says:

    By some miracle I sat down and stumbled on the Discovery channel’s Ardi special just as it was starting. Really very good, just a little narration and almost entirely team people explaining things in their own words.

  6. artemis54 Says:

    o/t Obama gave yet another rousing repeat of his campaign speech to the HRC. No links, because it is just the same old Next Year in Jerusalem! crap. Solmonese and the HRC may be buying this, but no one else is. It’s about time to show us something besides this tired old horse shit. We already know you can give a speech – it is way way past time to prove that you can do anything else – anything would do at this point.

    • sisdevore Says:

      he should be more embarassed about that lame speech than getting the Nobel on hope.

      South Africa Recognizes same-sex marriage, but you can’t even lay your life on the line if you are gay in the US.

  7. sisdevore Says:

    I had a savings account, too. As it ended up, the First Communion money, from age 7, along with lesser deposits, did pay the brunt of my shrink’s bill in high school. (well, the bill was paid off from junior year of hs to first year of college)

    Never had a savings account since. Once a $1400 Ira that I cashed out with penalty.

    • artemis54 Says:

      Yeah I cashed one out a couple years ago and felt really bad at the time. But as it turned out, it would be worth a hell of a lot less six months later and even today. No prescience I assure you, just luck.

  8. artemis54 Says:

    Fascinating, Miss D. I am of the opinion that seemingly conflicting etymologies can reinforce each other.

    My aunt, she of the numerous questionable land grabs, opened a savings account for me when I was six or seven. For many years she would have me do work for her, pay me half, and put the other half in the account. So even though I had a piggy bank in the shape of a little pink pig, she felt that that money, even three or four dollars, was not “working” like it should and demanded that it be emptied out every month or two and put in the bank. Like Einstein, she was fascinated by compound interest.

    It was only many years later that I full appreciated what she was trying to do.

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