Meet the Maker: Graphic Image

BY Taylor Rebhan

Mystery still shrouds the origins of the piggy bank. According to one legend, during the Middle Ages, people would store or hide their coins in jars made out of an inexpensive clay called “pygg.” They called these jars “pygg pots” and eventually “pygg banks.” By the 18th century, the general public long forgot that “pygg” was a reference to the earthenware material, and when potters received orders for “pygg” banks, they created them in the shape of a pig—and the phenomenon of entrusting a toy farm animal with your life’s savings began.

The story behind Shinola’s Leather Piggy Bank, on the other hand, is no mystery. It is just another great tale of American manufacturing at its finest. To put our own spin on a beloved classic, we collaborated with the leather virtuosos of Graphic Image of Long Island, NY.

“It’s a 100% hand effort,” said Graphic Image’s President, Tom Glazer. “There is no part of the production of this piggy bank that can be mechanized. We had to come up with some clever techniques to get certain parts of it to work, and loved the manufacturing challenge.”


Leather Piggy Banks (pictured above) fresh off the assembly line.

Tom’s father, Bennett Glazer, started Graphic Image in 1977 after perfecting his design of a leather pocket diary. A seasoned book designer, it was a freelance project with The Franklin Library that first opened his eyes to the art of fine binding and the world of leather.

His diaries were sold at nearly every high-end retailer from Barney’s to Bergdorf Goodman and Tom and his mother were instrumental in helping Bennett meet manufacturing demand.

“I was fresh out of college when the business began. It was just my dad, my mom and me, and I was there initially just to help them out while deciding what I wanted to do next,” Tom said. “Forty years later, I’m still here. We now have 200 employees, and even though diaries are still a pillar of our business, we’ve diversified our offerings.”

On any given day, you can walk through the factory and see people binding books, building leather frames and making bags, and other accessories—all at the same time.

“Our factory is a place where you can hold in your hands in the afternoon something that was only an idea in the morning,” Tom said.

Having a product development team that can help solve problems right there on the factory floor is a unique part of Graphic Image’s process. Because they had never constructed a piggy bank before, it required extra thought and care from the entire team.

“We loved collaborating on this piece,” Tom said. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes with going outside the box with a product that is a departure from what we do day-to-day.”


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