Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Creepy kids and outsized bank found on old checks

In my entry on April 12, I detailed a bit of my interest in collectible old checks.

I thought I'd revisit that topic and share a couple of interesting late 19th Century specimens on the Union Bank of Winchester, Va.

The earlier check is dated 1882. The lithography work was by A. Hoen & Co., of Baltimore. The check is large (about 8-3/8" x 3-1/2") and colorful, with lots of ornate typography. 

The vignettes of a pair of little girls, however, are just creepy. 

The moppet at upper-right isn't too bad, the child just has a melon head.

It is the little girl at left that sends a chill down my spine. She is positively demonic. I don't know what sort of potion she has dipped her index finger in, but the look in her eyes dares you to remonstrate her for it. The fact that there is some sort of gargoyle supporting the table she's leaning on just underscores the dark nature of the engraving.

By 1900, the bank had switched printers, to the Milwaukee firm of J. Knauber Litho. Co.

The 1900 check is similar in size and general format to the 1882 instrument, but has a different pre-printed orange two-cent U.S. Internal Revenue stamp at center. (You used to have to pay a tax on every check written. The 2-cent tax on a check from 1900 is equivalent to about 52 cents today.)

Also different on the 1900 Union Bank check is the vignette. The spooky kids are gone, replaced with a large view of a multi-story stone building identified as the issuing bank.

If you look closely at the vignette, however, it becomes evident that the building is wildly disproportionate to the people and horses in the street. The man on the bank steps generously measures about 3.5 mm. Assuming he was of typical height in that era, say 5'9", the front doors on the bank would be just under 20 feet tall. The building would be about 90 feet tall . . . or more than six stories. 

Note that the Knauber engraver included a derbied gent on a bicycle in the street scene.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments, criticism, additional information, questions, etc., are welcome . . . as long as they are germane to the original topic. All comments are moderated before they are allowed to appear and spam comments are deleted before they ever appear. No "Anonymous User" comments are allowed.