Thursday, June 12, 2008

Piggy banks - Past, Present and Future

For the frugal Foochows, saving coins was a big deal. All of us were brought up to save our coins if possible. We were even taught not to spend anything on food if we were not hungry!! Clothes were homemade mostly. Shoes were of the simplest and cheapest onees available. We even took pride in buying the cheapest stuff in the shops which gave the cheapest prices!! Mum would save money to buy everything cash. She never believed in purchasing anything by instalments or hire purchase.

WE all had our coin boxes, and later my children also had their piggy banks of one style or another. They were not encouraged to break their piggy banks. All Chinese new year ang pows were put into their savings accounts.

Many petty thieves were caught stealing either from the piggy banks or carrying away the piggy banks . This would cause a lot of distress to the children who owned them.
today in Sibu, probably a piggy bank would be meant as a conversational piece or a decorative item in a bed room.

My recent photo shows three piggy banks owned by my nephew and nieces. I am warmed by their enthusiasm. Local pottery like Ng Siang Hup still produces many different varieties of piggy banks. The older generation of piggy banks were mainly white or brown in colour. Today, they look more cheerful and are more colourful. The faces on the piggy banks have also changed to a more universal look. I am glad some things (being frugal) don't change very much, and if they do change (colours, shapes,styles), it is for the better.

Actually, piggy bank is an universal concept.

According to Wikipedia, it is sometimes called penny bank or money box and is the traditional name of a coin accumulation and storage container; it is most often, but not exclusively, used by children. The piggy bank is known to collectors as a "still bank" as opposed to the "mechanical banks" popular in the early 20th century.

Piggy banks are typically made of ceramic or porcelain, and serve as a pedagogical device to to teach the rudiments of thrift and savings to children; money can be easily inserted, but in the traditional type of bank the pig must be broken open for it to be retrieved. Most modern piggy banks, however, have a rubber plug located on the underside. Some piggy banks incorporate electronic systems which calculate the amount of money deposited.[citation needed]

In 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."[citation needed]

This name may have caught on because the pig banks were mostly used by children, and the pig is a child-friendly shape that is easy to fashion out of clay. 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.

Another reason for the name piggy bank that has been put forward is based upon the idea that the coins given to the piggy bank represent the food fed to a pig by the farmer. It costs the farmer money to feed the pig which he does not get back until the pig is slaughtered for the meat (represented by breaking the piggy bank) which the farmer can then sell.

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 somewhat obscure, but from a Majapahit piggy bank from the 15 century A.D. one may conclude that the concept has been used for several centuries.

The general use of piggy banks is to store loose change in a quaint, decorative manner. These containers may serve other uses, such as functioning as swear jars or a hiding places for domestic contraband such as cigarettes, drugs or condoms. Modern piggy banks are not limited to the likeness of pigs, and may come in a range of animal shapes, sizes and colors.Many times a family could empty spare change into one and then split the coins when the bank is full.

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