15 Historical & Interesting Bank Checks
The humble bank check day’s are numbered. No one can deny the convenience, ease of use and speed benefits of the modern plastic / electronic fund movement systems.
But when you scan through this collection of checks, you made find yourself, like me, feeling a sense of loss.
Some of these checks are fantastic historical documents: not only on a global scale, like the check from the sale of Alaska to America, but also on a personal level, like the computer programmer who received a check for $10.24 from his hero for spotting errors in the master’s book and checks written by John Lennon of the Beatles to pay his utility bill. Even Albert Einstein’s payment for an anti-racist newspaper.
#1 Check for the Purchase of Alaska
This was the check for $7.2 million that bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867.
The back of the Treasury warrant for the purchase of Alaska, was signed by Russia’s minister to the United States, Edouard de Stoeckl in August 1868. By endorsing it, he allowed for the transfer of $7.2 million dollars from the U.S. Treasury to Russia and the transfer of Alaska to the United States.
#2 Merchant’s & Farmer’s Bank
In 1946, the only way to get cash was to go into a bank and write a check to yourself or to “Cash” and present it to the cashier. Back then the “Merchant’s & Farmer’s Bank” was probably for actual merchants and farmers.
# 3 A Reward Check from Sir Donald Knuth
I received this cheque from Sir Donald for sending in 4 corrections in his seminal work, “The Art of Computer Programming”.
4 corrections, thus a cheque of 4 hexadecimal dollars.
#4 Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies – 2 Zillion Dollars
An autograph from Barenaked Ladies member Steven Page
Steven Page signed my check – bless ‘im. He also thought it was “cool” that these are the real checks we’re using.
#5 Shoemoney’s AdSense Check
This is perhaps the most famous check ever among people who are trying to make money online. It shows a one month payment for $132,994.97 from Google for ads shown on Jeremy’s ring tones website.
Jeremy used the popularity of this picture to build a very successful blog…which makes him even more money.
#6 Amazing Check from 1869
Even the handwriting is stylish on this $50 bank check from 1869
#7 Beautiful Korean Cheque
Personal checks are beautiful and better historical documents but they are much less secure than electronic funds transfers. Countries like Korea has adopted elaborate watermarks in their checks to try and combat fraud.
#8 John Lennon Pays the Bills
John Lennon pays his electrical bill. 101 pounds was a huge amount for electricity in 1970…maybe his account was overdue by a few months?
#9 Checks Were More Casual in 1916
Change banks? No problem, while you wait for new checks, just scribble out the old bank name and write in your new one!
Various cancelled checks from the Crawford W. Cameron collection. Notice how he marked out the “National Bank of Claremore” and wrote in his bank. I would like to see someone try this now!
#10 A Check from the Now Defunct Midland Bank
A Midland Bank Ltd. cheque from the 1970s. Midland Bank, at one point the biggest bank in the world early in the 20th century, suffered severe losses during the 1980s Third World Debt Crisis. Midland was taken over by The Hongkong & Shangahi Banking Corp. in 1992. But then HSBC moved its head office from Hong Kong to Great Britain and became a British bank itself.
#11 National City Bank Check from 1874 for $512,050.00
This check is interesting because of the large amount but also it has a postage stamp on it, I wonder if it was sent through the mail without an envelope…think anyone would try that these days?
btw… if you received this check in 1874 and just left it in a standard saving account, it would be worth about $400 million today.
#12 Mini Checks to Replace Coins
This is actually real money, or at least it was briefly. in the mid-70s Italy ran out of coins and banks were basically allowed to issue their own currency called “mini-assegni”. even the smallest of local banks and credit unions issued these checks as money, and it was impossible to know what currency was supposed to look like.
#13 Blogger Celebrates His Last Mortgage Payment
Blogger Wayne celebrates his last mortgage payment by posting the final payment to the bank on his blog. An achievement definitely worth celebrating.
#14 Checks Can Make Police Work Easy
This check, written by Major League Baseball player David Segui, was used to pay for steroids. In fact many of the players named in the recently released Mitchell Report on steroid use in MLB, used checks to pay for the illegal drugs. See the other checks.
#15 Albert Einstein IF Stone’s Weekly Payment
Albert Einstein pays $5.00 for a subscription to the IF Stone’s Weekly newspaper.
It will be sad when these type of documents are gone for good. There is something so tactile and lovely about seeing the combination of money and personal handwriting preserved on a paper document.
Btw, checks are not dead yet, in fact they are going strong in many cool and designer styles. SMD checks section has a fantastic selection if you’d like to save money (by not paying the over priced rates at your bank) and order checks online.
Suddenly we realize that somehow viewing your PayPal account page, or your credit card statement, is sadly lacking in archeological enjoyment.
Image Credits: #1 Melquiade, #2 takeabreak, #3 G0SUB, #4 Jane, #5 shoemoney, #6 Gerry Szymanski, #7 superlocal, #8 Beatles Rarities, #9 idswart, #10 canadian pacific, #11 Atlantic Cable, #12 okrahoma, #13 sparkleberrysprings, #14 Lion in Oil, #15 Steve Rhodes.
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