Saving money at home has been a popular activity – indeed a necessity prior to the advent of banks – for many centuries, and it may surprise some of you to learn that even piggy banks such as the example pictured left (discovered in Indonesia and dating back to the 15th Century) existed hundreds of years ago. Back in those days of course there was no removable rubber stopper in the pig’s belly, and therefore no way of removing your savings without smashing the bank into multiple pieces, hence this used pig’s patchwork skin. Luckily for us, those rubber stoppers eventually became commonplace, and families were soon able to teach their children the value of saving without having to bring out a hammer should the money need freeing.
That simple but valuable addition isn’t the only development in the world of piggy banks and to celebrate their surprisingly long lifespan, here are a few of the more unique examples of piggy bank evolution that will hopefully inspire you and your family to embrace the beneficial art of saving, or at the very least entertain you for a small portion of your day.
Much like regular piggy banks, mechanical banks were introduced in order to encourage youngsters to save, however rather than just be a receptacle for your hard earned cash mechanical banks were designed to perform a stunt or action as each coin is taken. In many ways they’re very early examples of today’s advanced, all-singing, all-dancing piggy banks. These days mechanical banks are rarely produced, and as such working models are now collectors’ items. The picture above shows a popular style of mechanical bank, the action of which can be seen in the video below. For more information about these fantastic items, I’d suggest starting at the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America website.
The Amazing Coin Factory Bank
The Amazing Coin Factory Bank is a delightful, fantastic contraption that will be sure to encourage youngsters – and adults if they’re as easily captivated as myself – to save money. The coin’s journey begins at the summit, at which point it travels down a series of slides, is picked up by moving arms, falls down steps and generally has a thrilling ride until reaching the base of the bank where the money is stored. It brings to mind the incredibly mesmerising Rube Goldberg machines seen so often on YouTube these days and for the majority of children will be an enthralling way to save.
The Face Bank
The Face Bank is a rather disturbing, potentially annoying interactive piggy bank with a twist. The front of the bank is home to the bottom half of a human face, and as you bring a coin to its mouth the sensors – located in its nose – activate a chewing action which results in the piggy bank eating your cash. One can imagine the first few instances being amusing, but just remember that the more often your child saves, the more often the bank’s noisy mechanics – as witnessed in the video below – kick in. More importantly though, children will likely continue to be astonished and saving long after you’ve had enough.
As far as we can tell ‘Energy Savings‘ is unavailable to buy and exists more as a green statement than a piggy bank alternative, and it’s a shame as it actually seems like a fantastic, visually enticing idea. As you can see, the front end of the bank takes the form of an electrical coverplate but replaces what would normally be a light switch with a coin slot, behind which sits a box to collect the savings. What’s unclear is the method by which the coins are removed, bar unscrewing the plate itself, but then again the more difficult withdrawing money is, the more likely you are to leave it alone.
Another piggy bank with a face – but this time not human – the Money Monster takes the form of, unsurprisingly, a monster; more specifically a one-eyed, verbose, cash-gobbling monster. Money in the form of coins and notes (very handy!) are fed into the creature’s mouth, at which point he/she/it will utter one of twenty sentences intended to promote further use. It’s also worth noting that every now and then the Money Monster will actually shout at people randomly in an effort to shamelessly round up more funds should it be feeling neglected. Hiding the Money Monster is probably advisable during dinner parties, unless of course you’re looking for tips. Here’s the monster in action:
If a simple piggy bank can’t entice your computer game-obsessed child to start saving money, maybe Bank Quest has the answer. Embedded into the front of this castle turret-shaped bank is a small LCD screen, upon which an admittedly basic role playing game is shown. Should the game’s character need weapons or armour in order to proceed within said game, coins are inserted as payment; if the game isn’t topped up with money, your character dies. An interesting idea, but a possibly short-lived experience once your child realises he or she can play similar games for free elsewhere.
The Coin Lamp is, at first glance, similar in vein to the ‘Energy Savings’ concept previously mentioned, in that it’s a piggy bank design that plays cleverly on the theme of household lighting, however there are notable differences. Placing coins into this lamp – via the slot on the front of its base – is actually the only way to turn on the light itself; in effect forcing you to save money should you wish to brighten the room. Also the lamp is available to buy and not just a concept, although not cheap – short term at least – at £115. Definitely one of the more stylish piggy banks we’ve seen, and as a result one that wouldn’t look too out of place in a design-conscious environment.
The Choken Bako Robotic Dog Bank is a Japanese addition – of which there are many – to the novelty piggy bank market, and could be the just the ticket should your child either have a phobia of pigs, be infatuated with dogs, or both. Coins are inserted into the dog’s bowl, at which point the animal seemingly begins to headbutt the cash until it slips into the box below. Of course your innocent, unjaded child will be quite happy in the belief that the dog has actually eaten the coin, and therefore continue to feed it at regular intervals. The dog in action: