Uncommon Knowledge

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

April 7, 2014

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

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