Not all piggy banks are shaped like a pig. This one’s shaped like a clock. In fact it is a clock and it’s called the “Time Savings Clock”.
You might ask, who would use such a clock to save their coins? Good question. Somehow, insurance companies figured out that their customers would, and they made sure each willing customer had one of these 1950’s coin-operated timepieces. It was a novel way to help them save money for their premium payments. The idea was that two British florins had to be put in the coin slot at the top of the case to keep the clock going. After all, who doesn’t want their clock to keep ticking? After the clock would run for a certain amount of time, levers and wheels in the movement would lock in place, and the clock would stop. So, time for some more coins. After the coin-drop, the clock movement was then free to tick away.
The coins ended up at the bottom of the clock in a sealed chamber, and at regular intervals an insurance man would come to the customer’s home, unseal the chamber, collect the coins, then re-seal the chamber. (Photo on left shows a time saving movement and coins.)
Beyond this clock’s novelty is something more. It’s not just a piggy bank and time keeper rolled into one. When I step back for a moment and look at its coin slot and numbered face, I see the clock as a symbol, one that reminds me of the value of time itself.
Think of it this way: to get the clock to run, it has to be fed with money— and money, as we well know, is what we all use to buy something we value– such as a car, a home, an education, food, clothing, etc. By our putting money into the clock in order to keep it running, we are, so to say, buying time. Of course, time can’t really be bought, and the coins just get the clock gears to move. But in having to put something valuable, such as money, into the slot to keep the time going, the clock becomes a symbolic reminder that time itself is a thing of value.
In fact, time isn’t just an equal among other things of value. Time has a worth that’s in a class by itself because there’s only a limited amount of it. And unlike many things that can be bought with money, time isn’t one of them. That makes time very precious. And when I get to thinking just how precious it is, I also get to asking myself how well I’m using it. And that leads me to other questions, about loved ones, the future…in fact the very purpose of life.
So dropping two coins in the slot of a clock to pay for insurance premiums can turn out to be a whole lot more.
Photo #1 – Time Savings Clock – britishmuseum.org
Photo #2 – Inside view of a time savings clock – vintage-radio.net
Photo #3 – Hourglass – sculpturegallery.com