This section is from the "Practical Banking" book, by Albert S. Bolles.
The labor, responsibility and risk attending the handling of the funds used in paying the balances have been greatly abridged by the use of certificates. These are of three kinds—Clearing-house gold certificates, United States gold certificates, and United States legal-tender certificates. Clearing-house gold certificates are issued in accordance with a plan adopted in September, 1853, against gold deposited with one of the associated banks, and are of the denominations of $ 1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. They are numbered, registered and countersigned by the proper officer, and are endorsed when paid into the Clearing-house by the paying bank, and when paid out are charged to the receiving bank, so that they can always be traced by the records. They are to be used only in settlements between the banks, and any member of the Clearing-house which shall pay or deliver to any party, not a member, any such certificates, is subject to a fine of one hundred dollars. The Bank of America was selected as the depository of the associated banks at the time the Clearing-house was established. The issue of legal-tender notes by the Government and the suspension of specie payments reduced all ordinary settlements to a paper basis, and the issue of Clearing-house certificates was discontinued. In 1879, after the resumption of specie payments and the discontinuance of further issues of gold certificates by the Government, the Clearing-house gold certificates were revived, the Bank of America being again selected as the depository. The first of the new certificates were issued October 14, 1879. The amount of these certificates out-standing June 30, 1881, was $41,858,000, but has since been reduced. United States gold certificates were authorized by Act of March 3, 1863, and were used for Clearing-house purposes soon after the passage of the National Bank Act. The first issue was made November 13, 1865. They are issued against deposits of gold coin and bullion made with the Secretary of the Treasury, in denominations of twenty dollars and upwards, corresponding with the denominations of United States notes. Further issues were discontinued December 1, 1878, but were resumed under Act of July 12, 1882, and they have, in part, superseded the gold Clearing-house certificates. The United States legal-tender certificates are issued under Act of June 8, 1872, against deposits of legal tenders made with the Secretary of the Treasury by any National banking association, in amounts of $10,000 and upwards, and are of denominations not less than $5,000. They are payable on demand in United States notes at the place where the deposits were made, and are counted as part of the lawful money reserve of the National banks. Before the resumption of specie payments they were much used in the Clearing-house settlements, being frequently called Clearing-house legal-tender certificates,and the amount outstanding June 30, 1875, was $59,045,000. The amount now in use is comparatively insignificant, and they appear only to a small extent in the Clearing-house settlements. The amounts and percentages paid in coin, currency and certificates in the Clearing-house settlements at New York, in 1883, were as follows:
It will be noticed that only one-half of one per cent, of the balances was paid in actual cash, and this amounts to only one-fiftieth of one per cent, of the clearings.
The system of paying Clearing-house balances wholly or partially in certificates has been adopted at Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and St. Paul. At Cincinnati, St. Louis, New Orleans, Louisville, Columbus, and Memphis, the manager of the Clearing-house issues checks or certificates on the debtor in favor of the creditor banks, which must be paid to the satisfaction of the latter. The form used at St. Louis, which will serve to illustrate, is as follows:
$5,000. St. Louis Clearing-house, July 18, 1884.
In the settlement of the balances of the Exchanges made between members of this Association today, there is due from (No. 6) the Commercial Bank, five thousand dollars, payable on demand to (No. 8 ) the Fifth National Bank.
Not transferable, and without recourse upon any other member of this Association after two o'clock p.m. of this day. E. Chase, Manager,
The forms are different at different Clearing-houses, but their purport is substantially the same in imposing upon some debtor bank the duty of paying a certain sum to some creditor bank in settlement of the balances. In this case the payment of balances, as well as the exchange of vouchers, is a matter settled exclusively between the banks, the Clearing-house handling no money and having nothing to do with the matter, except to apportion the payments.
At Providence, Hartford, New Haven, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, Syracuse, and to some extent at Portland, Maine, balances are paid by checks on New York or Boston, except where they are for small amounts. This plan is similar in principle to that prevailing in the British and other European Clearing-houses. The handling of cash is entirely dispensed with, so far as checks drawn on some common depository are used. The check issued in these cases would be forwarded by the creditor bank to its New York or Boston correspondent, which might also be the depository of the debtor bank. If not, the check would be either collected directly, or through the New York or Boston Clearing-house.