Tales from the Archive: Plenty of Pigs

This story was published on April 2 in the Chichester Observer. Read the original story at chichester.co.uk/news/local/plenty-of-pigs-for-mr-tom-shawyer-1-7352536

[All images: West Sussex Record Office archives]


A lot of people have a china pig sitting somewhere in the house.

In 1966, however, Mr Tom Shawyer was king of the china pigpen with a grand total of 155 pigs.

He had been collecting pigs for seven years, after his wife Edie bought him the first after an operation.

Since then, relatives and friends brought pigsback from all over the Continent and the British Isles.

He even had a wooden wart hog in the collection which his neice bought in Tanganyika.

The problem, it seems, was keeping the pigs clean. Mr and Mrs Shawyer reported that it took them a grand total of four hours to wash all of their pigs in his collection. Another issue the Shawyers faced was where to actually keep such a huge number of china pigs – in 1966, they used to occupy six shelves and a cabinet.

Mr Shawyer said: “It really is a fascinating hobby. Some of my pigs are real bone china, and they are very expensive.”

Mr Shawyer had china piga in all different shapes, sizes and colours. The smallest was half an inch long, and the largest was 17inches long. Every birthday, Christmas, and anniversary, a few more pigs were added to the collection.

The image of the pig gained prominence with the figurines and planters made in the late 19th century by English, German and Austrian potters. These ‘pink’ porcelain pigs with green decorations were popular souvenir or prize items at fairs and carnivals.

Do you have an interesting or eccentric collection?

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