A device used to collect a monetary fee in exchange for occupation of a parking space. A coin of varying denomonation is inserted, and the handle turned. Elegantly, this places the coin into the resivour as well as winding the clockwork of the timer. There is a certain charm about the endless repetitive placement and appearance of these little goblins, comfortable familiarity despite the nuisance they are. Until recently most of them were simple mechanical devices, rugged and ugly. Lately they have been replaced by electronic versions which feature a digital display of remaining time instead of a slowly cresting arm counting the minutes till a ticket. The metering device is mounted on a thick pipe which is embedded into the cement such that it may not be knocked over or dragged away. It is the job of a meter maid to drive through the city checking for expired meters and dispensing tickets. In the past people have been known to walk shortly ahead of the meter maid dispensing money into expired meters, saving people from tickets and exhasperating the metermaid.

The parking meter was first patented by Carl C. Magee, filed in 1935 and issued three years later. Mr. Magee was on a committee in Oklahoma City which was attempting to find a remedy for the shortage of parking spaces in the downtown area. Residents of the business district were parking overnight and occupying spaces which the city would have preferred be available to shoppers instead. The city installed these meters which allowed them to prevent people from filling a space for an entire day, as well as generating additional revenue. The solution was an ideal one and caught on immediately in other cities across the nation. It is estimated that there are currently five million parking meters in use by cities, colleges, and various private facilities. The first meters were manufactured by the Magee-Hale Park-O-Meter Company, however they shortly found themselves in competition with Dual, Mark-Time and Duncan-Miller. Many of the meters today are made by companies which trace their heritage back to these originators.

Converting a parking meter into a piggy bank is a relatively simple though slightly dangerous matter. Using a heavy pipe or suitable replacement simply smash the display portion of the parking meter until it pops off from the cast metal base. (you will note upon inspection that the base is of a much more durable construction than the plexiglass top, thus we exploit the vulnerable portion of this piggy.) With the top removed, it is likely that a metal plate will be in place as a protective covering over the cup storing the change. Use the pipe end as necessary to smash this out of the way, and (wearing a thick glove if possible) reach down inside and pull out the change cup avoiding any metal edges which might cut your hand.