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A Short History of Bank Checks

Apr 6, 2008
Through all of time, no matter how many times the bank system makes changes, the bank checks remain constant. Today, just as the Romans of the ancient empire, we depend on bank checks as promissory notes.

Earliest use of bank checks

The Ancient Romans used the earliest form of bank checks although it was much simpler than the method used today. There is recorded evidence that they used what were called praescriptiones as early as 100B.C. After about four hundred years, bankers in the Persian Empire started using a similar system of credit.

The Medieval Period

Another particular variation of our contemporary bank check system was developed in Europe during the middle ages. The Knights Templar, a banking center during that time, to hold money for people traveling across Europe, used a check system. These individuals would then deposit the money at one station and simply claim it from another with the aid of a proof of claim draft. This was perhaps the earliest form of paper check that was used for the purpose of claiming funds. It is thought that Muslims used this system for several hundreds of years before the Knights began to use it.

Bill of exchange

The foundations of the modern checking system have derived from what was once referred to as a "bill of exchange" from early bankers. By the use of this system, early banks would allow the customers to pay necessary bills through the use of bank's mandatory orders. This, of course, made distance commerce much easier, given how people were able to engage in trade practices without the requirement of having a great deal of gold or other hard currency on hand. This was, overall, a deeply necessary change, since carrying around significant amounts of coin was both burdensome and potentially disastrous for traveling merchants.

Bank checks in the United States

Bank checks made their way to the United States by the Europeans during the Colonial period. Since the Europeans had already been dependent on the system since the early 1700s, it didn't take long for the Americans to adopt the system. Of course, the bank systems continue to evolve, especially in the past century, thus more control and security exists in present time. Bank checks pose as a form of protection to the consumer.
About the Author
William A. Gordon shares his knowledge of checks with consumers on his check styles catalogue site which presents info on topics from checking safety to choosing a quality designs personal checks.
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