Skip to comments.Huntington Bank discovers original checks signed by Lincoln, Washington, Edison, Twain and others
Posted on 01/15/2012 12:07:29 PM PST by DogByte6RER
Huntington Bank discovers original checks signed by Lincoln, Washington, Edison, Twain and others (photo gallery)
President Abraham Lincoln made out this First National Bank printed check to "self" for $800 on April 13, 1865, two days before he died.
BROOKLYN -- Dozens of personal checks -- some 150 to 200 years old and signed by the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, George Washington and Thomas Edison - have been unearthed by Huntington Bank.
Some of the historic checks, all signed by U.S. presidents, were unveiled Tuesday and are on display at Huntington's newest branch in Brooklyn. The display is free and open to the public seven days a week until Jan. 31.
The checks had been in storage since 1983 at Huntington's Columbus headquarters, after Huntington took over Union Commerce Bank and acquired boxes upon boxes of old records.
Only last year did a Huntington employee realize the boxes included personal checks written by a total of 24 presidents and a host of other famous figures, including authors, inventors, composers and community leaders.
"We really didn't open them up until about a year ago and we realized, wow, these are pretty valuable," said Huntington spokesman Bill Eiler.
One check on display was written by Abraham Lincoln on April 13, 1865 -- the day before he was shot and two days before he died.
The check, for $800, was written to "self" and drawn on the First National Bank of Washington, D.C. According to Eiler, the check was reportedly used to get cash to pay debts ran up by his wife, who was known to be a big spender. An $800 tab would be the equivalent of $11,260 today.
The check itself is worth about $25,000 today, according to Cowan's, a Cincinnati appraiser that valued the entire collection of 70 checks at $75,000.
Also among the checks are one from author Ernest Hemingway, written in 1932, for $3.50 to Curtis Publishing Co.; one from civil rights leader Susan B. Anthony, written in 1897, for $5.63, to pay a woman for office supplies; and one from Thomas Jefferson, written in 1793, for $22.69, to Jacob Stine.
The checks were quite a find, said Bill Barrow, special collections librarian at Cleveland State University.
"These are remnants of a vanished society," Barrow said.
He noted that actual checks with original signatures puts a human face on these famous figures from history. They show these people had bills too.
Barrow pointed out that most people probably didn't write many checks back then, so they took their time and often signed with proper, very legible signatures.
The April 1865 check from Lincoln is of special significance, he said. "The fact that President Lincoln had this in his hand the day before he was shot, it helps connect people."
Huntington has been rotating portions of the collection to various locations across the six states where it has branches. Eiler said some of the other checks could make their way to Northeast Ohio branches in the months ahead. For now, Huntington was trying to draw attention to its Brooklyn branch, which opened last month at the corner of Ridge and Memphis, on the site of an abandoned gas station.
Loretta Stanton, retail area manager for Northeast Ohio, said the bank had another branch in Brooklyn until about five years ago, but said it wasn't a good location. So it was closed. Huntington had been looking for another opportunity because it had "a huge gap" with no branches for many miles, Stanton said.
Huntington plans to open 12 additional branches in Greater Cleveland this year.
See more of the photo gallery at:
Thank you for this post and these pictures. It really makes our history come alive.
I still write out paper checks and find very little difference between one of mine and one written out 150 years ago.
Response: Truer than he realizes now that we are joining "The Third World."
Comment: However, the checks are interesting as historical reminders.
This is very cool!
I don't see any account numbers, unless the handstamp on Lincoln's check contains his account number? How would banks have figured out which account needed to be debited?
Interesting. Anyone notice the scribbled face of George Washington on the check? I wonder if Lincoln did that?
Aside from the accounting/routing numbers on the bottom of modern checks, I’d say they’re practically identical.
As far as knowing which account to debit, that’s an interesting question. I guess the banks knew who had which account since there were more face-to-face business dealing.
That appears to be a stamp. Grants check has a stamp that has a postmark on it. Interesting.
Does that payee line on that one check say “Domino’s”?
Neat. Sort of like finding an old plumbing or grocery bill for an historic figure. Actually an old grocery bill would be very interesting.
It's nice to know that some things never change.