You can’t have enough pigs
“We’re going to sell the rest of the pig collection next week,” I heard the auctioneer say as I was browsing the tables at the auction house.
What on earth was he referring to? I had only seen a few cute finger-sized pig figurines in one of the glass cases at the front of the room. He sounded like there were many more of them somewhere else at the auction.
I continued my leisurely walk-through of the room because I had no interest what-so-ever in pigs. Then I was confronted with more than three tables of them in all shapes, sizes, colors and materials: pigs with wings, pig cookie jar, pig banks, cute pigs, ugly pigs, pink cuddly plush pigs in boxes under tables. There were so many of them that I had to stop and gawk.
It didn’t end there. In another room were tables of rusted metal pigs, a pig weather vane, a wooden Southern BBQ sign (nice!), a pig and piglets print hanging on a wall, and more.
No doubt this was a collection of someone enamored with pigs. It had seemingly attracted others of the same ilk because several auction-goers had already left absentee bids (the weather vane and BBQ sign had two bids each).
This wasn’t the first time I’d seen competing bids for pigs. At this same auction house last year, one small cast-iron pig had four bids. Even then, I wondered about the allure of that pig.
We all grew up on “The Three Little Pigs” story, so maybe that’s where the love affair began and did not end for folks like this collector. While those storybook pigs were eventually able to outsmart the big bad wolf, the image of them as intelligent creatures seem to stop there for most folks.
Pigs are seen as lazy and filthy (they wallow in mud – but to cool off because they have no sweat glands). Instead, they are among the smartest animals in nature (they can be taught to play video games), and are even smarter than dogs. They are also said to be very social animals that create bonds with their babies and other pigs.
Early on, pigs as sustenance was their primary reason for being, especially in rural areas. In this country, they were the first animals brought into the colonies. (Whether or not to eat pork is another issue, especially for African Americans.)
Pigs as figurines took shape in the 19th century in England, Germany and Austria as potters made pink porcelain pigs as souvenirs, or prizes at fairs and carnivals, or to be bought for small change at stores. By the 20th century, pig figurines were used as banks, hence the term “piggy bank,” and in this country they also became souvenirs.
Pigs as cuddly creatures were enhanced through folktales and popularized with the 1930s Walt Disney “Silly Symphony” cartoon series featuring Fifer Pig, Fiddler Pig, Practical Pig and the Big Bad Wolf. Porky Pig from Warner Bros.’ “Looney Tunes” became just as entrancing around the same time.
In the 1970s, pig collectibles seemingly got hot again. But not all have value, which I suspect was the case with most of the ones at the auction.
Here’s a sampling of that pig collection: