Brother, can you spare a dime? by Brenda Webb

Brother, can you spare a dime? by Brenda Webb

One thing I love about writing Regency stories is that you learn a lot doing research. A new term I came across while I was writing Darcy and Elizabeth – A Promise Kept was money box. Like most, I had heard of a piggybank, but I had not heard the term money box. It seems both of these names were used during different periods in time, though the term money box was used most often until the late 19th century.

After reading about them, I went in search of pictures, and it quickly became evident that common money boxes of the early 1800’s were just plain ugly. Still, I decided to incorporate a money box into my latest story and share some of the pictures and information with you.

Crude yellow clay Money box 16th century

The practice of collecting coins by putting them in ceramic vessels dates back to ancient China. At some point, a clever bureaucrat must have figured out that using ceramic jars with a small slit near the top as their only opening would ensure all taxes collected would be turned over to the tax authority. The populace dropped their taxes (coins) into the jar, and once finished, the collector had only to deliver the coin-filled jar.

By the Tudor period, the practice of ceramic boxes had spread to England where they were called money boxes or money jars. We most often think of a box as a square or rectangular container, but in its earliest meaning, a box was a receptacle made of any material, in any shape, which held drugs, perfumes or valuables. Therefore, it was perfectly logical to call the pottery vessels in which coins were kept money boxes.

16th or 17th Century Money Box

During the Regency period, a wide range of money boxes were still in use, primarily by servants and their children. They were cheaply produced, of various shapes and sizes, but typically 10-15 cm tall and round, usually glazed in brown or green, had a penny sized slot cut into them and a characteristic ‘knob’ molded on top. Nearly all servants used one to hold spare coins collected over the course of the year. By tradition, on Boxing Day, they would smash the box and use the money to enjoy themselves and buy a new box for the coming year. For that reason, these money boxes were also known as Christmas boxes and rattling boxes.

Boxes were also purchased by the middle and lower classes as gifts for babies and young children.

1586 -1603 Money Box

It was customary for a parent or god-parent to give a baby a money box into which they placed a few coins to start the child’s savings. Each year, on the child’s birthday or name day, family and friends might make gifts of coins which would be dropped into the child’s money box.

As they got older, children might also earn a few coins from time to time which they also slipped into their money box. Typically, the money box was entrusted to the child’s mother, who would safeguard it and present it to the child when they came of age. Though it seems the upper classes seldom bothered with money boxes, it is always possible that a doting and/or eccentric relative might give a more expensive money box to a child and slip coins into it each year on that child’s birthday as well.

Because the nature of the money box dictated it had to be destroyed to access the coins, most were made quickly and sold cheaply. Making square or rectangular objects was more labor-intensive; thus, for centuries most were made in the shape of simple jars with a small finial or button on the top. By the turn of the eighteenth century, potters began making them domed-shaped with decorated surfaces. After being coated with a yellow glaze, these pineapple-shaped boxes sold well, and with the use of simple designs, colored glazes and cheap child labor, many potters developed a steady business.

With the advent of ceramic molding, various shapes became inexpensive to create; thus, chicken shaped boxes were turned out in great numbers. Having a palette of white, yellow, red and brown glazes, they looked quite realistic. Then, as the nineteenth century began, dogs, cats, cows, sheep, elephants and lions joined the line-up. Buildings, primarily ceramic cottages and castles, were available at the beginning of the Regency period and by 1820, were increasingly more elaborate and expensive. Afterward, they were purchased more for household ornaments than for vessels in which to save money.

Very few money boxes have survived since they were smashed when their owner wanted the coins contained within, but I have included some photos of the nicer and more interesting ones below—some from other countries.

Early Staffordshire Money Box Heads In the early 19th century, circa 1820, these were a tuppence a ton, widely made and given to children to encourage savings. However, as the only way to get the money out was to smash them, not many have survived.


Did you have a piggybank when you were a child and, if so, did you save for a specific purpose? I remember saving my money for our summer vacations and how thrilling it was to buy a souvenir that I selected. It would take several days before I would choose which one I simply had to have! How about you? Do you have any piggybank memories to share? I’d love to hear about them.

Information in this post came in part from:  and


It has been said that all good things must come to an end, and I have found that adage to be true. Today, it is with a sad heart that I announce I am leaving Austen Authors. I began my journey with this group unsure if I could handle the duties of my forum, DarcyandLizzy.Com, write books and be a part of this wonderful group in light of my health concerns and my obligations to an older member of my family. Still, for over a year I managed to do it all and had a great time in the bargain!

Alas, nothing ever stays the same and as things have changed, I found that is no longer the case. Thus, I have decided to concentrate on my forum and what I really enjoy—writing. Though I will no longer be a part of this lovely group, I shall always appreciate the opportunity to participate that Sharon and Regina gave me.

I am not leaving JAFF and I will continue to support my friends at Austen Authors in every way possible. Hopefully, I will still see many of you on the forum and our Facebook pages.

Hugs and the best of luck to one and all!




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MaryAnn Nagy
August 29, 2021 1:19 PM

First of all I want to wish you best of luck in your future endeavors. I have copis of all your novels and in fact as you changed covers, I even have them. They are among the best of the best! Read them more than once! You are very dear to my heart and I will cherish that always!

Rose Fairbanks
Rose Fairbanks
May 14, 2016 9:13 PM

Fascinating post! I’m so sorry you’ll be leaving Austen Authors, your posts are always interesting! But it’s a gain in other ways if it allows you to focus more on Darcy and and your books! Best wishes for you and your family!

May 15, 2016 8:31 AM
Reply to  Rose Fairbanks

I am proud that you have enjoyed my posts, Rose. And, yes, I hope the change will allow me more time to write! See you on the forum! Hugs,

Zoe Burton
May 14, 2016 7:13 PM

I never had a piggy bank as a child, but I bought one for me and one for my then-husband about halfway through our marriage. I filled mine up, though I had to use it at one point after the divorce. Broke my heart to do it, too!! I now have a small metal one with a plug in the bottom that is totally full and an old pretzel container that has a couple inches of coins in the bottom. My goal is to fill it to the top. 🙂

I am so sad that just as I am beginning here at Austen Authors, you are leaving it! 🙁 I’m glad, though, that you are keeping up with the forum and writing. You’re too valuable a resource and write too well to be lost to us! (((hugs)))

See you on the forum!! 🙂

May 15, 2016 8:30 AM
Reply to  Zoe Burton

Thanks for sharing your memories for piggy banks with us, Zoe . . . the good and the bad. I have always loved the security of knowing I had a bank full of money regardless if the amount inside it would get me to the bus stop! 🙂 And thank you for your kind words. I am happy to know that I shall still be working with you, Rose, Eileen and everyone who posts their lovely stories on D&L! Hugs.

Ann Todd
Ann Todd
May 14, 2016 3:38 PM

I have enjoyed your books and your entries here so much. Sorry you have to leave here, but will continue to look forward to reading your books.

My Daddy had a “Mama Pig” and a “Daddy Pig” into which he put money year round. One was for our summer family vacation trip and the other was for our Christmas. There were 6 of us. I remember sitting on the bed with him many times as he turned the pig upside down and fished out the bills with a knife. Then he’d count it and see how much we could spend for our vacation or for Christmas. I don’t know what ever happened to “Mama Pig”, but I have “Daddy Pig” in my home now. Every time I look at him and see the slot in his head that is still worn wide by the knife sliding in and out, I’m transported back to those times sitting on the bed with Daddy watching him slide the money onto the bed. We always had a nice vacation and Christmasses were wonderful!

May 14, 2016 6:51 PM
Reply to  Ann Todd

Thank you, Ann, for your kind words about my books. 🙂 I love your memories about Mama and Daddy Pig!

Alexa Adams
May 13, 2016 2:14 AM

Brenda, we will miss you! But you won’t be far away. Such choices are hard to make but sometimes necessary. This was a lovely post. You will be missed.

May 13, 2016 9:06 AM
Reply to  Alexa Adams

Thank you Alexa. I shall miss all of you, too. 😉

MaryAnn Nagy
May 12, 2016 6:52 PM

Brenda, I have cherished your friendship more than you will ever know. Sorry to hear about the health issues and elderly family member. Being the only daughter, I was given the responsibility to care for my mom with Alzheimer’s Disease. My 3 brothers thought it was only right being a nurse and all, but they shirked their responsibilities by dumping them me and didn’t come around. I don’t regret what I did for all those years and you won’t either. Keep up the writing as I so enjoy it and will see you around the net. Remember to keep in touch with us all. I will keep you and yours in my thoughts and prayers. Love, hugs and best wishes always!

May 12, 2016 9:51 PM
Reply to  MaryAnn Nagy

I feel exactly the same about your friendship MaryAnn. And, I understand entirely what you shared about your mother, for I suffered the same fate. While, like you, I do not regret anything I did for my mother, it took a great toll on my heart which has never functioned normally. I shall be around the internet and on the forum and hope to see you often. I covet all the prayers you can spare! Love you too! hugs,

May 12, 2016 3:52 PM

Hi Brenda. That was such an interesting post about how money boxes came about! In the UK they are mostly called money boxes unless they are pig-shaped, although some people use piggy banks as a generic term for money boxes. I had a money box as a kid that I loved. It was a freebie from the bank when you opened a child’s account and it was shaped like a little building and had two dials on the back like a safe that you had to put on the right numbers to unlock your treasures.

I feel mixed emotions at the news that you are stepping down from Austen Authors. I feel sad on the one hand because I enjoy reading your posts, but on the other hand there is only so much time and energy anybody has to go round and if you need more time for your writing and the forum then I am glad for you that you’ve recognised that and have taken steps to achieve it. Big hugs and all the best!

May 12, 2016 9:44 PM
Reply to  Ceri

When I decided to resign I had already done this post and still wanted to share it with the readers. So, I am thrilled that you found it interesting, Ceri. I got a piggy bank too as a child when my mother opened a savings account for me, my sister and my brother, but it did not have the dials that yours had. That would have been so cool! I appreciate the good wishes and encouragement as well. You have been such an encouragement to me and I appreciate it so much. Hugs,

Regina Jeffers
May 12, 2016 1:31 PM

Brenda, Henry David Thoreau said, “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” I greatly regret your leaving Austen Authors, but I cherish the things we shared. Best wishes, my friend….see you around the internet.

May 12, 2016 9:39 PM
Reply to  Regina Jeffers

How sweet of you to say, Regina. I am sad that I could not made everything work but I know I did my best and that gives me peace. I can only do what I can and leave the rest to God. He has always picked me up at my lowest and got me back on my feet and I trust He will do so now. Look forward to seeing you on the internet, too.

Diana J Oaks
May 12, 2016 1:28 PM

I wish I had a “Brenda Box” where I could save up all of the lovely bits of story, period, culture, and publishing information you have meted out since we first became acquainted. It would be a treasured stash! It is with gratitude that I console myself–your departure from Austen Authors doesn’t signal an end to our friendship by any means. I am sincerely glad to call you my friend.

May 12, 2016 9:34 PM
Reply to  Diana J Oaks

You know how to make a girl cry, Diana. I cherish your friendship, too, and I am grateful that we shall still have you and your lovely story on D&L. I remember the first time I read your book “One Thread Pulled” and being so impressed with your storytelling ability. I knew that you had to publish that tale and was not surprised in the least when it was a great success. I am proud that God saw fit to have our paths cross for you are a true friend. Hugs,

May 12, 2016 11:39 AM

Sorry to hear about your health and family problems. I hope things improve. You will be missed on Austen Authors. I had a metal money box in the 50s that looked like a treasure chest and my Nana used to give me 3d a week to save for the holidays.

May 12, 2016 9:24 PM
Reply to  Glynis

Thank you Glynis for your kind words. I shall miss being on Austen Authors as well. I remember having a bank once that looked like, well, a bank! It came from a Savings and Loan Bank and was given to children to encourage savings. Thanks, too, for sharing your experience with banks. 🙂

May 12, 2016 11:06 AM

A lovely post followed by crushing news! Why do you have to leave (whining)! Well if you have to, you have to… As long as you keep writing your wonderful stories and we still see you around int the site!

May 12, 2016 9:21 PM
Reply to  tgruy

You made me smile Tere! I would not have left had there been any other option. But I shall be around JAFF, on the forum and, hopefully, I shall see you often. Hugs.

Sharon Lathan
May 12, 2016 11:00 AM

We begged. We pleaded. We bargained. We whined and cried. We stomped our feet and shouted a firm, “NO! You can’t leave!” Then, we accepted that our selfish love for Brenda Webb and her amazing contributions to this blog must be quashed. 🙁

Brenda, I am forever thankful for this opportunity to grow better acquainted with you. No longer a random Facebook friend, you are now a dear friend of my heart whom I shall always cherish. Additionally, we are sisters in Christ! No matter what happens here, we shall be eternal pals in due course.

I know this isn’t really goodbye. Your work on has HUGELY benefitted Austen Authors and the JAFF community, and it shall continue to do so. You will release more fabulous novels that we can share and enjoy. I’ll be chatting with you on Facebook and getting the Twitter notices of your constant activity. And I have your phone # and you have mine!

So no “goodbye” from me! Only tremendous thanks, and heartfelt best wishes for improved health, a long life, and many more Austenesque novels to delight us! Love you, Sharon

May 12, 2016 9:18 PM
Reply to  Sharon Lathan

Sharon, I appreciate all the kind words. I hated to leave but could see no other path to keep up with my responsibilities and do what I love most–write! I shall still be around as much as possible and hopefully we shall cross paths often. Hugs.

Leenie B
May 12, 2016 10:11 AM

I had a ceramic baby sleeping as a piggy bank when I was young, and I also had a green metal box that looked a bit like a strong box or safe. I think I still have the baby somewhere, but the metal box is gone.

Well, that is bittersweet news, Brenda. Sorry to loose you here. But, you have to do what is best for you and your family. 🙂 Happy that you will be focusing on writing and running the forum — which I love btw and am delighted to be a part of as a reader and writer.

May 12, 2016 9:16 PM
Reply to  Leenie B

How delightful that you had a money box of your own! We love having you as a reader and writer over at D&L, Leenie! Thank you for sharing your talents with our readers.

Jennifer Redlarczyk
Jennifer Redlarczyk
May 12, 2016 10:03 AM

Brenda, what a delightful post on the money box and I loved seeing the pictures having read your wonderful story. I too am sad to see that you will be leaving Austen Authors. However, I like to think that we are all JAFF sisters in spirit and therefore will continue to support each other in whatever venue we are associated with. Being a moderator on I have seen first hand how much work it takes to run the forum. What I do there is minimal to what you do as the Administrator and as the person who pays for the site. From that respect, the readers are blessed by what you have given back to the JAFF community. We all love your books and are happy that you will continue on with your creative muse and continue to write. Best wishes to you and all of the Austen Authors. As we say on the forum … See you in the threads! Much love, Jen Red

May 12, 2016 9:14 PM

You do so much on the forum that enables me to keep writing Jennifer, and I could never thank you enough. But let me take this opportunity to say you are the sister I needed after losing my own. I love you because you are the kindest person I know and you make me want to be a better person. Thank you for taking me under your wing when I needed a true friend and carrying part of the burden of the forum when you saw me faltering under the load. Hugs.

Carol hoyt
Carol hoyt
May 12, 2016 9:40 AM

Love the post. My mother collected piggy banks and now one of my granddaughters.
You will be missed here but I love your forum, which I visit daily. Do what you need to do. Please continue to do what you love !

May 12, 2016 9:08 PM
Reply to  Carol hoyt

How fun that your mother collected piggy banks. I had so many over the years that I should have done the same. 🙂 I am so glad that you love the forum for all of us there work hard to make it a pleasant place to visit.

May 12, 2016 9:31 AM

Wonderful post. Such interesting info on money boxes. I am so sad to hear you leaving AuAu. I will still follow you. Your books are among my favorites!

May 12, 2016 9:06 PM
Reply to  BeckyC

I am proud that you liked the post Becky. And thank you for your encouraging words. I needed them. 🙂

Jeanne Garrett
Jeanne Garrett
May 12, 2016 8:16 AM

Life is a series of steps that take us in a forward motion. With each progressive step we are leaving where we were standing and putting our foot onto different ground and sometimes new territory. You have to do what you need to do for your family and for yourself.

As you lighten your load, you will find that you are more energized. You have to put your efforts and strengths into what is best for you. All of us have known sacrifice and change at some point in our lives. You are loved and will be followed wherever you go. Our best wishes and prayers are with you and yours. Take care and know we love you. It is never goodbye…only see you later.

May 12, 2016 8:44 AM
Reply to  Jeanne Garrett

What a lovely reminder Jeanne. Thank you for taking the time to make me feel better. I know what I have to do but that does not make it any easier. I love and appreciate my followers, so given a choice between ‘other things’ and writing, writing won out. I hope that if you aren’t a member of my forum,, you will join. I share my thoughts, as well as my stories, with my readers on that site. See you later. Hugs,

Jeanne Garrett
Jeanne Garrett
May 12, 2016 4:22 PM
Reply to  brendabigbee

I am not a member…I had never been on the forum. Thanks for asking me to join. I just visited your site and registered using my Gmail address that is easier to access. I also registered using my initials J.W.Garrett. I look forward to seeing what happens on a forum. I have no idea. Sounds like fun.

May 12, 2016 9:05 PM
Reply to  Jeanne Garrett

Jeanne, I just now went over to the forum and approved you. I have been out of pocket all day or I would have done it sooner. So happy to have your smiling face on the site. Please introduce yourself and comment so everyone can get to know you. Hugs,

May 12, 2016 7:35 AM

:(. Though your leaving I will still follow. Love Darcy and Lizzy!

May 12, 2016 8:45 AM
Reply to  chatty1082

You are so sweet to say so, Chatty! I love seeing your smiling face on D&L! Hugs,

Joana Starnes
May 12, 2016 6:51 AM

Oh, Brenda!!! There I was enjoying all the wonderful information on money boxes and then I came to the sad end to your post!! So sorry to hear that, but I do hope we’ll never lose touch. It was a pleasure and privilege to know you, you’re such a lovely lady and I adore your writing. Whatever you do, please don’t stop giving us more JAFF! All the very best, good luck in everything you do and hugs.

May 12, 2016 8:52 AM
Reply to  Joana Starnes

I feel exactly the same way about you, Joana. Getting to know you through this group has been one of the highlights of my participation and I shall stay in touch for I intend to keep up with you and your lovely books. I do not know if I have told you, but you are one of the writers that I admire most. Your stories have well thought-out plots, great character development and are long enough to ‘sink my teeth in’ which is what I look for in a story and I simply cannot wait to read the new one! I wish you the best of everything too, girl. Hugs,

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