Product Idea |

Portuguese Piggy Bank (Mealheiro)


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The mailbox is a very usual object in Portugal, used to place letters that will later be sent to the recipient. Everyone recognizes it and knows perfectly what it is for. Everyone trusts its functions and uses it to send all kinds of correspondence.

Based on the need to teach my children how to save money, I decided to create a piggy bank using this object as a base, exchanging the letters for coins and banknotes.

It looks good anywhere and can be very useful to teach some saving habits, not only to children, but also to ourselves. A must have for everyone!

Maybe it is big enough to save money to buy your favorite LEGO set later.

(Attention: this photo has some differences because some pieces do not exist in certain colors)


Like real mailboxes, there is a 4-stub wide opening at the top where coins and banknotes can be inserted.

At the bottom we have a small door with a removable part that allows you to collect the money without having to dismantle the construction.

The base can be easily detached from the mailbox and allows only to balance the construction against the possible weight of the coins.

Built based on four sides, the circular structure significantly increases the resistance to the weight caused by coins, with each side reinforcing the other two adjacent ones. My little son tests it for several times without my consent!

The project consists of 489 parts: 360 from the piggy bank and 129 from the base.

Piggy Bank:
Height: 24.2 cm
Width: 8.3 cm
Lenght: 8.6 cm

Height: 1.0 cm
Width: 12.8 cm
Lenght: 12.8 cm


The project comes with 1 minifigure: the mailman.

based on internet research:

In 1500 by the time Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil (on the 22nd of April), Tristão de Ataíde was going on a voyage to India but was shipwrecked in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

At cost it reached solid ground. Coincidentally, it was the very same place where, thirteen years earlier, Bartolomeu Dias had landed and carried out the excellent business of exchanging an ox for a simple red cap, which had pleased the natives.

Accommodating, as best he knew and could, in Natal, he decided to write a letter, narrating the sad situation, and the way the tragedy occurred; and he placed it in the bulge of a tree that was and is there.

A natural opening that allowed to protect the missive from the weather and facilitated the detection, by the seaman, that passed through it.

The place, as it is close to a source of drinking water, was already known to Portuguese navigators, where on their trips to India, supplied themselves with water and vegetables.

A year later, after the shipwreck of Tristão de Ataíde, the commander João da Nova, on his way to India, disembarked there, from Baía das Walrus, to fill his barrels with fresh water.

As he passed through the tree, he noticed that there was something deposited in the trunk cavity and, approaching, he found the letter.

He read it carefully and decided, to mark the event, to have a small chapel built on the site, which later served as a point of reference for navigators to supply themselves with abundant drinking water.

The letter from Tristão de Ataíde came to remind us that, to shorten the distance, it was possible to use the tree as a post office.

Since then, the ships that went to India, left the “mail” in the natural opening of the tree, and lifted the one that was destined to Indian territory; when the boats returned to Portugal, they collected the correspondence addressed to the metropolis.

This saved time and allowed the letters to reach their destination more quickly.

This tree was perhaps the first mailbox that existed, and it became known by the English, as post-tree.

There is an evocative plaque on the site where the shipwreck of Tristão de Ataíde happened and, therefore the existence of the first postmark in Africa and in the world is remembered.


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