Provenance - Pig Piggy Banks 2024

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Where ever you are, visit the local souvenir shop, crockery shop, charity shop. Don’t search for piggy banks in countries where it is not custom to eat pork. In countries where a pig is seen an unclean animal, in principle you will not find any pig piggy bank.
Where ever earthenware or porcelain industry is, or has been, one should find piggy banks. In the Netherlands there are well known places like Gouda, Delft, Makkum. In France Quimper (Brittany), Limoges, Lunéville. In the UK one could search in Staffordshire. Or take a chance on antique markets, boot fairs, etc. In Germany one can try to find piggy banks in the Alsace, or the former GDR. In Czechoslovakia I found many piggy banks about 20 years ago, nowadays they all are with stoppers! If you are visiting Thailand you can buy piggy banks in Chiang Mai for example. There are opportunities to find them in Mexico, Vietnam, Africa, South America, lots of them in the USA, etc.

It is not easy to identify the origin of a piggy bank, 90% of them have no hallmark. Often it seems clear from which country they are, but the factory or potter that made them remains unknown. The possibility that a piggy bank is from South-German or Czechoslovakian origin is great, 25% of the piggy banks made before the Great War (1914-1918) were produced there.
An additional complication in identifying the origin of piggy banks is the fact that the moulds were traded all over the world. A nice piggy bank made in Germany can have a twin in the USA or Norway, etc.

What does it mean if a piggy bank is stamped 'Made-in (country)', or 'Foreign' or 'Import'? First of all, it means that the piggy bank is marked, which can simplify its origin. Many piggy banks do have no marking at all on the bottom, so you have to look for the origin in a different way. Under other types there is a serious mark of the factory or potter. That makes it easier for the origin.
'Made-in (country)', 'Foreign' and 'Import' have to do with trade protection and (therefore) export/import (depending on which side of the border you look from) of earthenware or porcelain. Not just 1 piece, but large numbers from one country to another. Rules have been devised for this since 1887, which I would like to explain below. This is to make it easier for the piggy bank collector  to determine the origin and possibly even the age (usually a period, exact age is impossible).
'Foreign' and 'Import' are now history, 'Made in (country)' is de facto no longer necessary within the EC. And outside of that, you increasingly find piggy banks with “decent” brand stamps, or a mould number, or nothing.

Made in/ Foreign
The MADE IN label was originally introduced in Great Britain (the United Kingdom-UK) with the Merchandise Marks Act 1887 to more clearly mark German products in particular. This was because German manufacturers had marked large shipments of inferior goods with the brands of renowned British manufacturing companies and imported them into the United Kingdom. America followed suit in 1890 with the McKinley Tariff Act requiring foreign products to be labeled FOREIGN. In 1891, the “Made in” label was also included in the McKinley Tariff Act. Japan and Czechoslovakia, major producers of pottery and therefore also of cheap unbranded pottery, complied with this trade legislation. However, by writing the country of origin in their own language. In 1921, the Merchandise Marks Act and the McKinley Tariff Act were amended to include the words "made in the country of origin in the English language." Over the years, most countries have adopted this trade legislation into their own legislation.

It's quite complicated, but in general you can date a lot with this knowledge.
I limit myself to ceramic piggy banks, as these fall under the category of 'cheap earthenware', often without a brand name. An overview:
  • 1887/1890 -1914 any item imported into a country, that did not have a clearly identifiable mark of origin and/or brand name, had to be marked FOREIGN. "Made in Germany" has been the motto for Germany from the start in 1887.
  • From 1914 onwards, all imported articles into a country had to be marked MADE IN + THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN. In the first instance, this applied to Japan and Czechoslovakia in addition to Germany.
  • From 1921, all items imported into a country had to be marked MADE IN + THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (compare Nippon which should be written as Japan).

There are also piggy banks marked "FAIRYLITE FOREIGN". All "Fairylite" goods were made in Japan and all were marked "foreign" with a paper label or stamp. Fairylite is a brand!

Dating German Ceramics, if there is any clue on it is not easy. But there is a little grip to hold on:
  • From 1887 till 1945  MADE IN GERMANY
  • From 1946 till 1990 MADE IN WEST GERMANY or W-GERMANY
    Rare, because there was few export to not communist countries. The backstamp MADE IN DDR was more common.

  • From 1990 on: MADE IN GERMANY
The Import stamp was used until about 1950. What did it mean?
In the years before 1950, many German, Chinese and Japanese pottery factories sold semi-finished products to trading firms and porcelain decorators in other countries. These items may bear Import stamps. With or without the name of the trading company and/or porcelain decorator, but only Import is the most common. The stamp was used by manufacturers who, in addition to producing good quality branded porcelain, were engaged in the large-scale production of low-quality, cheap porcelain that they stamped Import. By using the Import stamp they avoided associating the factory's name with this cheaper part of production. The products were exported as semi-finished products and finished in the country of import (with stickers or/and were painted, glazed and finally backed).

A stamp associated with Import is "Terra". It was widely used by Japanese, Chinese and German manufacturers in combination with (and sometimes as a replacement for) the Import stamp. What Terra stands for in this context has not been established.

With this in mind, it is possible to indicate the IMPORT stamp on piggy banks. These piggy banks from before 1950 came from the country of origin as a semi-finished, non-painted, non-glazed product. In pottery terms: as 'bisquit'. In the country of arrival they were painted or stickered, glazed and fired. The Import stamp remained visible because the belly was only glazed.
Curiously enough, consumers over the years have added value to the Import stamp, which was supposed to indicate cheap porcelain. It thus unintentionally became a quality indicator, different from what the creators had intended.

Voorbeelden stempels
Examples of IMPORT stamps/ marks.
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