This section is from the "Practical Banking" book, by Albert S. Bolles.
At a few minutes before ten o'clock the clerks begin to arrive at the Clearing-house, and each settling clerk as he enters passes to the manager's desk, his credit ticket showing the amount of exchange with which his bank is to be credited. These amounts are entered as rapidly as possible in the credit column of another blank called the "Clearing-house Proof," which is given on a subsequent page. So rapidly is this work done by an expert, that within a very few minutes after the last credit ticket is received the entries in the credit column are completed and footed, showing the total exchange of the day if no error has been made. Just before ten o'clock a stroke of the manager's bell calls the clerks to order. They take their places at their respective desks, the settling clerks inside, and the messengers outside, the former with his statement so far as completed, the latter with the "Settling Clerk's Receipt," and the actual vouchers for the banks to which they are to be presented. Another stroke of the bell, at ten o'clock precisely, is the signal for the exchanges to commence. No variation from this time is allowed on any pretext whatever, and on this point the Clearing-house is no respecter of persons. A few years ago Mr. Windom, Secretary of the Treasury, desired to witness the exchanges, and was apprised of the inflexible punctuality required. He arrived some minutes late, only to find that the clearings had taken place just as if he had been an individual in a private station.
At the second stroke of the bell, each messenger advances one step, which brings him to the desk of the first bank at which he is to deliver vouchers. He hands over the exchange package designed for that bank, also the "Settling Clerk's Receipt," on which the settling clerk enters his initials against the amount, as a voucher to show that the exchange has been received. The receipt is then handed back to the messenger, who passes on and repeats the operation at the desk of every other bank for which he has any vouchers, finally, coming around to his own desk after having delivered all his packages. Supposing him to have a package for every bank except his own, each of the sixty-four messengers has delivered sixty-three packages. The number of accounts thus settled between the banks is, therefore, 64 x 63 = 4032. The time required for delivering the exchanges is ten minutes at New York, and five minutes at Boston. In the old way of exchanging it would have taken several hours. At Boston there is no "Settling Clerk's Receipt," and the messengers deliver at each desk the check ticket already mentioned, showing the amount of each package delivered.
The messenger having completed his circuit, takes back to his bank the return exchange left at the desk of his bank by the messengers of the other banks, with a statement showing in round numbers the result of the clearing. The return exchange, consisting of the vouchers payable at the bank to which they are delivered through the Clearing-house, is, when brought to the bank, delivered to the paying teller for examination, after which, if they are all right and the drawers have sufficient funds, the checks and other paper are delivered to the bookkeeper and charged to the proper accounts, thus closing the transaction. All checks, drafts, notes, or other items in the exchanges, returned as "not good," or missent, are to be returned on the same day to the bank from which they were received, and this bank must make good the amount received through the Clearing-house for them; but when returned for want of endorsement or informality, they may, after being certified by the returning bank, be passed through the exchanges of the following morning to the amount of $5,000. Errors in the exchanges are also adjusted between the banks, the Clearing-house not being responsible.
After the departure of the messengers from the Clearing-house, the settling clerks continue their work, none of them being allowed to leave until the settlements are completed, without the consent of the manager. Each clerk, as soon as he has footed the credit column of his statement and carefully revised the work, strikes a balance between the total debit and the total credit exchange, which shows how much his bank is to receive or pay. He then copies these footings into what is called the "balance ticket," as follows:
No. 61. New York Clearing-house,
January 17, 1884.
Debit FOURTH NATIONAL BANK amount received. .$3,297,323 04
$................Debit balance due Clearing-house.
Credit balance due The Fourth National Bank. $341,074 74