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Uncommon Knowledge: Why do you put your coins in a pig?

Piggy and Bear Storybook Slippers | UncommonGoodsIt kind of makes sense that piggy banks are shaped like pigs, because the pig is a traditional symbol of wealth and abundance in some cultures. But in fact, piggy banks were around long before they began to be shaped like pigs. That’s because “pig” was once “pygg”—a kind of cheap, orange-colored clay that was used for household vessels and kitchen pots. Before banking became common, people would simply store their money in a pygg jar. Over time, people became more familiar with pigs (the animal) than with pig (the substance), resulting in banks that are shaped like pigs while not being made of the substance they were named for. Perhaps, though, the next most fitting material for a piggy bank would be porcelain: the word porcelain comes from the Italian word for “cowrie shell”, which in turn was derived from the Latin word porcellus—which means “little pig.”

Piggy and Bear Storybook Slippers, $32

Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

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