Vintage Piggy Banks: Identification And Value Guide

Although coin banks have been around for over 600 years, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you just recently got interested in them and decided to start your own collection of antique piggy banks. Since you’re new to the concept, there are a lot of things that you need to familiarize yourself with before diving head-first into the hobby. Fortunately for you, we’ve got just what you’re looking for right here in this guide!

You’re probably aware of what a piggy bank is since it is extremely likely that you made your very first savings with the help of these coin banks. Apart from being used to store coins, antique coin banks also prove to be the ideal decorative pieces for your home. This, along with the fact that most antique piggy banks are pretty affordable as they fall in the price range of $25 to $200, simply add to the various reasons why a vast number of antique collectors have gotten interested in collecting different types and models of vintage piggy banks for themselves.

In order to be an integral part of the antique coin bank enthusiasts community, you need to enhance your knowledge about the history, types, identification, and value of early piggy banks. To avoid you having to go through the inconvenience of performing extensive research, we’ve compiled everything you need to know right here in this article.

So without further ado, let’s get straight into the topic!

Origins Of Antique Piggy Banks

Vintage Piggy Bank Spain Hand Painted Porcelain Tierra
Alt: Vintage Piggy Bank Spain Hand Painted Porcelain Tierra, $45.00 Source: eBay

Have you ever wondered where the incredibly common phenomenon of coin banks originated from? It’s essential for you to comprehend the history and origins of pig banks to understand their importance in today’s world.

Although the exact origins of the piggy bank are unknown to collectors and enthusiasts; however, a lot of historians speculate that the first instance of the implementation of the idea of coin banks dates back to the mid-16th century. During the middle ages, piggy banks were mainly manufactured from cheap orange-colored clay, known as pygg. Pygg jars were known to be incredibly popular among children of this time who primarily utilized them for the purpose of holding spare change.

The idea initially became popular in Western Europe; however, it was soon spread to different regions of the globe, and eventually, various well-known pottery manufacturers took interest in producing ceramic piggy banks. Soon, this money-saving idea took the shape of the piggy banks that we’re so fond of today and it made such a major impact on the financial industry that many financial institutions began to use pig icons to symbolize the concept of saving.

As coin banks grew in popularity, new and improved designs began to enter the market, primarily targeting the young population. Antique coin banks of this time didn’t have exit holes which meant the coin bank needed to be destroyed in order to get the money out. This further encouraged children to continue saving until and unless they really wanted to spend them. In the 20th century, exit holes were introduced, and most modern piggy banks still function with this concept.

Types Of Coin Banks

As a collector of antique coin banks, you need to be aware of the different types of piggy banks that you’re likely to come across. Piggy banks can be divided into two separate categories, primarily on the basis of how they are manufactured and their apparent working mechanism. You need to understand the difference between these two types of coin banks as it can significantly help you in identifying antique pieces without having to encounter any sort of inconvenience.

Still Banks

Antique Cast Iron Still Bank Home Savings
Antique Cast Iron Still Bank Home Savings, $149.99 Source: eBay

Still Banks are considered to be the simpler and more straightforward of the two since it contains no moving parts. Most antique piggy banks fall into this category along with other coin banks that depict people, animals, and animated characters. Because of the simplicity associated with this type of coin bank, it comes in a huge variety of shapes and designs and is incredibly popular among antique coin bank enthusiasts.

Vintage piggy banks were generally manufactured from ceramic, iron, chalkware, and tin, with each material being molded into unique and intriguing shapes that appeal to the collectors. Normally, piggy banks made from more fragile materials, such as chalkware and ceramic, are believed to be significantly more precious and valuable to collectors primarily because of their rich history and their high rarity. The fragility of an antique coin bank is another factor that can have a significant impact on its value in the market.

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Apart from the material, the age of the still bank can also prove to be crucial in identifying how valuable it might be to collectors. Most still banks produced between the time period 1870-1930 have the highest worth since various coin bank manufacturers of this time ceased production following World War II, making their products highly rare and valuable.

Mechanical Banks

Antique Vintage Style Cast Iron Mechanical Speaking Dog Money Bank piggy bank
Antique / Vintage Style Cast Iron Mechanical Speaking Dog Money Bank piggy bank, $100.00 Source: eBay

Unlike most piggy banks that you’re aware of, mechanical banks typically rely on some sort of mechanical action for the primary functioning of the bank. Similar to piggy banks, mechanical banks also have coin slots; however, in this case, the coin slot is mechanically associated with a funky reaction from interesting characters in response to the user inserting a coin into the piggy bank. The functionality of mechanical banks is directly dependent on the working of moving parts that are used in their manufacturing. These banks are generally made from cast iron and are relatively difficult to store and maintain over the years.

A mechanical bank is incredibly easy to spot and distinguish from a still bank on the basis of the figures and designs on top of the banks. Moreover, they make funny noises or actions when the user drops money into the bank. Unlike a typical piggy bank, a mechanical bank doesn’t require you to destroy it or apply any sort of physical energy to retrieve the money.

Mechanical banks greatly appeal to kids as the figures or designs that most of these banks use typically relate to popular children’s characters from TV shows. Vintage mechanical banks are highly valuable, going for several hundreds of dollars on antique stores, auction sites, or online retailers. Extremely rare pieces are expected to go as high as $100,000 and are highly sought after by antique piggy bank collectors and traders.

How To Identify An Antique Piggy Bank?

If you’re looking to become a vintage piggy bank collector, then it’s essential for you to understand the steps and measures that you need to take to effectively identify antique piggy banks. Doing so will assist you in understanding the authenticity of vintage items that you find online or from antique stores. Moreover, it will also help you understand the origins of the piggy bank which will give you an accurate idea of its value in the modern-day market.

Identification of antique pieces isn’t much of a problem for experienced collectors and traders; however, as a beginner, you are likely to experience some inconvenience while trying to do so yourself. For this reason, we highly recommend you to get an expert opinion on the authenticity of any still or mechanical bank that you’re looking to add to your collection to avoid spending large amounts on fakes and remakes with no actual value.

If you want to give it a shot yourself, then you need to know about the different factors and aspects that you need to be focusing on in order to effectively identify any antique piggy bank.

Age Of Piggy Bank

The age of the piggy bank can give you an accurate idea of its authenticity as well as value in the market. Most older models are known to have a more precise representation of a real-life pig relative to modern designs with various alterations and artsy designs. Additionally, older models are expected to have wear or scratches on their bodies primarily because of how old or antique they are. If an antique design seems to be in perfect condition, then there is a possibility of it being a remake posed to you as an original.

The age of vintage piggy banks can also give you a good estimate of its value and worth in the modern market. After identifying the age of the piggy bank, you may take a look at the prices of other pieces with similar ages and draw a valid conclusion for the price of the antique coin bank in question. Naturally, older piggy banks are valued higher than newer models solely because of their antiqueness and rarity.

Shape Of Piggy Bank

Large 14 Tall Antique Vintage Piggy Bank Pottery Pig
Large 14″ Tall Antique Vintage Piggy Bank Pottery Pig, $325.00 Source: eBay

Over the years, manufacturers from all across the globe have come out with new and innovative shapes and designs for piggy banks; however, the basic features have remained unchanged throughout time. These are also the features that can help you in identifying any old coin bank as a piggy bank.

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All piggy banks, whether still or mechanical, come with a coin slot that can be as small as the size of a single coin or large enough to fit wads of cash conveniently. No matter how old or new an antique coin bank is, it certainly needs a coin slot to be identified as a piggy bank. Newer piggy bank models with exit holes are expected to have plugs or stoppers that are used to cover the exit hole. These stoppers can be removed or displaced to allow the user to retrieve money from the coin bank without having to destroy it. The stopper can only help in the identification of relatively newer piggy banks instead of antique originals.

Material Used In Manufacturing

Vintage Rare Silver Plate Piggy Bank Napier z214
Vintage Rare Silver Plate Piggy Bank Napier z214, $60.00 Source: eBay

An important step in the identification of an antique piggy bank is understanding the material that it is made of. In older ages, coin banks were made from a variety of different materials, the most common ones of which included porcelain, clay, cast iron, and plaster. The manufacturing material can give you an idea of which era or time period the piece belongs to since certain materials were relatively popular in their corresponding periods.

Additionally, manufacturing materials can also give you an understanding of how valuable a piece might be to collectors of the modern era. Generally, more fragile materials, such as clay, are considered more valuable because coin banks made from these materials are much more antique than other alternatives.

Manufacturer Of Piggy Bank

Over the years, a massive number of renowned companies from the USA, UK, and other regions of the globe, have taken part in the production of piggy banks by introducing new and intriguing shapes and designs into the industry. Because of the immense popularity of coin banks during the time, it can be quite difficult to compile a list of all the notable piggy bank manufacturers in history; however, we’ve listed some of the most well-known names in the industry.

  • Ellgreave Pottery Company – The Ellgreave Pottery Company was established in 1921 and continued production until 1981. They were known for their signature bow-tied piggy bank with coin slots behind their heads or on their shoulders.
  • Studio Szeiler – Studio Szeiler became popular in the 1950s and was primarily known for its small-sized animal figurines with interesting color schemes involving a white glazed surface decorated with blue highlights.
  • George Wade & Son – George Wade & Son was founded in 1922 and the company met instant success thanks to its huge variety of color schemes, the most popular of which was the bone white adorned with blue flowery decorations.
  • Beswick Company – The Beswick Company was founded in 1894 by James Wright Beswick and it became involved in the coin bank business in 1969. Beswick was known for designing a boar-shaped piggy bank with a colored drawn surface made from graphite.
  • James Sadler & Sons – James Sadler & Sons was a very well-known English pottery company that was founded back in 1882. The company began its production of piggy banks in 1970 and quickly made its name in the industry because of its exquisite designs with kilt materials, overalls, and traditional headcovers.
  • American Bisque Company – American Pottery Company released countless character-depicting piggy banks with their slip-mold production method. They were one of the largest and most popular piggy bank manufacturers in America.
  • Shawnee Pottery – Shawnee Pottery designed various character-based piggy banks during their time, including Popeye banks, Howdy Doody piggy banks, Batman and robin banks, and more, before eventually ceasing production as a result of a copyright battle.

Are Vintage Piggy Banks Worth Money?

If you decide to buy or sell antique piggy banks, then it’s essential for you to have a general idea of how valuable they are in today’s market. Although it may be near impossible for a beginner to accurately identify the exact price of any vintage piggy bank; however, there are certain tips that can give you a good estimate.

There are various factors that are responsible for determining the value of an antique piggy bank for collectors and traders. To be able to understand the worth of old pieces, you need to comprehend what these factors are and how they affect the value of a piggy bank. Here are some of the most prominent factors that will help you understand your antique coin bank’s worth.

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Condition

Naturally, the condition of an old piggy bank plays a significant role in determining the price of any piece that you find online or from antique stores. If a piggy bank has little to no wear, tear, and cracks, then it is likely to be highly valuable to collectors and traders. Completely intact antique piggy banks have proved to be highly rare since some of the earliest models needed to be destroyed to retrieve the money.

Apart from the coin bank’s worth, its condition can also give you an idea of its authenticity, allowing you to identify the piece as an original antique or a fake or remake. If you find a highly antique piece in perfect condition, then there is a high possibility that it might be a modern remake of the original. For further certainty, you can have an expert take a look at the piece.

Antiqueness

How old or antique a piggy bank might be can prove to be crucial when trying to identify its expected worth in the market. This is because more antique pieces typically have rich histories relative to newer models. Piggy bank models from the 19th century or the early 20th century are much more valuable and sought-after than newer models. Older models also prove to be rarer, which can also boost their worth to collectors.

Rarity

Around the time of World War II, various manufacturers ceased production of piggy banks as a result of which, and various pieces produced during this time are believed to be highly rare and difficult to get your hand on, eventually raising their values in the market. The rarity of a piece can also be understood by identifying how many of those pieces were originally produced by the manufacturer and how long the manufacturer continued production.

Fragility Of Material

In certain cases, only the material used in the production of an antique piggy bank can significantly boost its worth in the market. For this reason, piggy banks made from ceramic and earthware are more valuable than competitors made from other more durable materials. Such products are typically fragile and are broken easily; therefore, reducing the chances of them surviving over the course of hundreds of years, making them rarer and more valuable to collectors.

Manufacturer’s Mark

Most antique piggy banks come with factory marks that can be used to identify the original manufacturer of the piggy bank. Products from certain manufacturers with a sound reputation in the industry are expected to be valued higher than others. To identify the manufacturer, you can closely analyze the mark of the piggy bank and compare it with marks from various different manufacturers until you find a match.

Antique Piggy Bank Value Guide

Most vintage piggy banks that you either find online or from antique stores are expected to be in the price range of $25-$200; however, depending upon the rarity and antiqueness of the piece, its value can go as high as several hundred or even thousands of dollars.

Here are some sold examples of antique piggy banks that fall into this price range.

Final Thoughts

While piggy banks prove to be the ideal collectible items, they can also help you save up your money to fulfill your dreams. Furthermore, these items require little to no maintenance, making them the best possible option for beginners taking interest in antique products.

If you feel like getting your hands on interesting piggy bank shapes and patterns, simply visit an online retail store, such as eBay or Etsy, or go to your nearest antique store and go for the one that appeals to you most.

With that said, if you have any questions, be sure to let us know in the comment section below!

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