Didn't stores used to have pads of blank checks for local banks?

I’m pretty sure I remember that our local grocery store had pads of blank checks from the 2 local banks. I can remember my aunt telling the cashier the bank and asking for a check. She filled out her name, account number, and amount.

This would have been around 1966.

Am I remembering correctly? I tried Google and all I got was places selling blank checks.

I seem to recall that ended very soon afterwards. Probably when bank checks started using magnetic ink for automated processing.

I got my first student checking account in 8th grade. That was 1972. I had a check book with printed checks.

I have gotten a few temporary checks while waiting for an order. The bank had stamped the routing number and account on them.

The store checks I remember from early childhood were blank except for the bank name.

Did that happen or maybe I’m confusing my memories?

Yes, though I don’t even recall that they were bank specific. I never used one, but recall my mother using one once. I think she had to write the bank name on it as well.

I never saw the blank checks at the grocery store. Born in 68.

But my bank in 1983(my 1st bank account) gave them out as backup, if you didn’t reorder before you ran out.
They were as you described, fill in the blanks.:slight_smile:

It’s hard to imagine a time when local checks were actually handled by clerks that debited the customer’s account.

All they needed was a piece of paper with your name, the amount, and probably an account number.

Yes. In the early 70s I had an older customer who asked for a counter check to pay for something. I’d never heard of such a thing; by then checks had been coded with magnetic ink routing numbers for years, so it wasn’t even possible.

I didn’t get my first checking account until late '76 or early '77, and counter checks were still available then. Even with magnetic ink being used on normal checks. You didn’t even have to use a counter check. Legally you could (and maybe still can) write a check on anything if you have the correct information.

The master speaks (or spake)

Didn’t Frank Abigail make a big show of writing a check on a napkin and cashing it, after he was caught and turned fraud specialist?

I got to see one of his seminars in the 80’s, with a high school group, I think he told the story about it.

Though your bank may charge you extra - quite a lot extra - for handling a cheque not written on the magnetic-inked form.

Yes, they were called “counter checks” (because they were kept at the sales counter). They were blank checks, with space for you to fill in the bank name and the account number. You can see Norman Fell offer this option to Edit Evans near the end of the 1967 movie Fitzwilly.

As a point of fact, it was (and probably still is) legal to write a check on any slip of paper.* You just needed to write down your bank’s name, your account number, the amount, the date, the payee, and then sign it. The trick is getting the vendor to accept such a check. In today’s world, I seriously doubt you could convince a department store to accept a handwritten check, even if it is legal.

  • There are stories of people writing checks on things other than paper, such as large pieces of wood or even the side of a cow. Again, the trick is getting the recipient to accept it.

The little west Texas town where I’m from still had counter checks available until 1985. In addition to finding them at stores, I remember seeing them at church as well. My grandmothers were both unhappy about having to remember to start carrying their checkbooks with them when they went shopping.

Counter checks. Thank you.

I was so young the last time I saw anyone use them. I never knew what they were called.

Did you read the whole column? The second half says the story was based upon a spoof and was not true, after all.

Only the part about the check written on a cow. Not the part about being able to write a check on a plain piece of paper.

Around here they had a pad of counter checks for each of the local banks with the bank name printed on them. They had them in a little rack by the cash register. Here is an example of the ones I’d typically see (although I don’t live in Oklahoma).

I remember seeing these in my church in the 1960s. There were also pencils in the pews. Of course, we made out endless fake checks to each other waiting for the service to finish.

Yes, there was a time when businesses had blank checks, counter checks. There was a time when you could write a check on any piece of paper. A grocery bag. (In theory. I’m sure somebody, somewhere, did this, but I can’t prove it.) There were tales about people writing checks on very weird things to pay their taxes or their alimony.

When my youngest son, who is 22, got a checking account, he didn’t even get checks. He needed a voided check to do direct deposit at work. He had to go to the bank and they printed something for him. That’s the only check he’s ever had. The next place he worked was run by crazy Russians and they paid him in cash.


You are right, I missed that subtlety.

On a side note, I am amazed checks are even used in this day and age. We give other people a piece of paper that has our bank account number and our signature? My own bank has it obscured when I look at my account online! It just seems to be a relic of the days when you didn’t lock your house.

Wow, nothing identifying on that except the Bank and the person’s name.

I had assumed people filled in a short account number.

Apparently the bank clerks looked up account ledgers by customer name. :eek:

That had to be a very small bank. People’s Names are not unique for any large filling system.

I always find paper filing systems very interesting. I got into computer programming just as converting paper filing systems to computer was ending. We designed forms to input the data, electronic files with sort keys.

:smack:yep, that guy:rolleyes::cool:

Victimized by autocorrect:p