Presidential Check Collection
Did you know that you can do your banking and enjoy a history lesson, too? We encourage you to visit our main lobby and view the bank's truly unique collection of checks written by 38 of the 44 Presidents of the United States. These checks are authenticated, insured and bolted to the lobby walls. The collection has been acquired piecemeal over the last three decades from collectors and historians throughout the United States.
Each check, beginning with George Washington's dated November 18, 1797, represents a unique piece of history. The collection also raises some interesting questions. For instance, what was Abraham Lincoln doing when he wrote a check to "self" for $800 on March 15, 1865, less than one month before his assassination? Imagine what $800 in cash would equal in today's dollars? Assuming a 3% inflation rate, our calculations come out to $48,507.94!
Teddy Roosevelt's check, dated November 29, 1912, was written to a Milwaukee physician six weeks after he was shot in the chest in Milwaukee while campaigning on the "Bull Moose" ticket. Not only did Roosevelt survive the attack; he also completed his speech! Roosevelt later commented, "I did not care a rap for being shot. It is a trade risk, which every prominent public man ought to accept as a matter of course." We wonder whether Dr. George W. Hochrein helped save Teddy Roosevelt's life.
In 1948, while supporting Harry Truman's campaign, Ronald Reagan wrote a $50 check to Americans For Democratic Action, one of the nation's oldest liberal political organizations. It was not until 1962 when Reagan officially switched his allegiance to the Republican Party.
Some of the checks serve as reminders of the good old days when you could live very comfortably on $85.00 a week. For example, Warren Harding's monthly utility bill at Potomac Electric was only $4.70 in 1919, and it only cost LBJ $3.00 to renew his driver's license with the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1965.
We'll keep you posted on the procurement of additional checks as we continue our efforts to complete our collection. If you happen to come across a canceled check written by John Tyler or Zachary Taylor, give us a call. Going forward, the "paperless transactions" of wire transfers, Internet banking and electronic bill payment may require us to revisit our check collection strategy. Politics aside, could an expired debit card from Bill Clinton ever hold a candle to Abraham Lincoln's check?
The next time you need to do your banking pay us a visit here inside the bank and see this unique historical collection. The George Washington check hangs directly behind our reception area and the collection moves clockwise in chronological order around the first floor. You are invited to view the checks anytime during our regular lobby hours, and children are always welcome.