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Modern Piggy Banks Bring Flair To Your Spare Change

Modern Piggy Banks Bring Flair To Your Spare Change
Piggy Banks | Photo by Nick Ferrari

Clockwise from top:
Grass Flocked Bird Bank
$20, greenergrassdesign.com
Bank in the Form of a Pig
$220, areaware.com
Bushka Bank
$30, oogazone.com
Midnight Elephant Bank
$88, jonathanadler.com
Ceramic Gas Money Bank
$15, kikkerland.com
Terracotta Piggy Bank $85, ladiesandgentlemenstudio.com
Photo by Nick Ferrari, Prop
Styling: Terry Lewis

In addition to Walter P. Chrysler’s automotive company and
landmark New York skyscraper, the industrialist was also known for his
collection of toy banks. In 1938, he told a hobby magazine that he saw
the coin receptacles as a “symbol in the game of life.” How that symbol
came to take the shape of a pig, however, has long been disputed by
historians. Some point to the “pygg” clay commonly used to make ceramics
in medieval Europe; others refer to the Victorian association of plump
pigs and prosperity. But it wasn’t until the conclusion of World War II
that argyrothecology–the tongue-twisting term for collecting money
banks–became a widespread trend. “The craze really took off because
people finally had more income,” says Corine Wegener, curator at the
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, whose toy-bank collection numbers more
than 1,110. Eager to attract new customers (and their new money), banks
offered these mini depositories, shaped as animals or buildings, as
promotional gifts. The banks found business, and customers found a
hobby. “What started as a toy for kids grew into an adult activity,”
Wegener says. Penny-pinching: It’s cross-generational!

A version of this article appears in the February 2012 issue of
Fast Company.
FCS