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The Origins of the Piggy Bank


The invention of the piggy bank originates to over 600 years ago in the 15th century when people would use pots to store what money they had. In that time, metal was an expensive commodity and not frequently used for household equipment. Household items such as plates and pots were made from an affordable clay called ‘pygg’. 

Therefore, whenever people had a few extra coins, they would simply drop it into their clay jars which they referred to as a ‘pygg’ bank or pot. During the time of the Saxons, vowels had different sounds to them, therefore Pygg would be pronounced as Pug. However, soon after the pronunciation of ‘y’ changed from a ‘u’ to an ‘I’, making clay ‘Pygg’ and the animal pig sound the same. An interesting fact in the old English language, coincidently pigs would roll around in ‘pygg’ mud and dirt, which could have contributed to the association of the words. 

As both words sounded the same, English potters would shape ‘pygg’ pots into the shape of pigs to humour the words. As this became a trend, people would request for the ‘pygg’ pots to be shaped like pigs. Over the next few hundred years people slowly forgot that ‘pygg’ referred to the clay. This became the norm in the 19th century, English potters would create pots shaped like pigs for people to use as a bank, humouring the origins of the word. This may have been accidental but has been used ever since and this is why we still use piggy banks today.


Paragon Banking Group PLC.  Registered in England number 2336032.  Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands  B91 3QJ.