This section is from the "Practical Banking" book, by Albert S. Bolles.
As a convenient, though perhaps unfamiliar name, we will call our typical depositor John Smith. John Smith arrives at the bank soon after its opening on the day in question, having in his possession $1, which, contrary to the usual desires of mankind, he is anxious to part with. He proposes to relinquish the possession of this dollar for an indefinite time and to place it in the custody of the bank. Now, what are John Smith's motives in this eccentric conduct?
First.—He thinks that the dollar out of his hands will be less likely to be uselessly spent than in his hands, which is incontestable.
Second.—He thinks that the dollar out of his hands will be less likely to be lost or destroyed than if in his possession.
Third.—He believes that, aggregated with a great many thousand other dollars belonging to other depositors, this dollar of his will possess an earning power which, in his pocket, it would entirely lack. These homely thoughts of John Smith represent or convey the Savings banks' reason for existence. Their object is three-fold. To prevent waste, to prevent loss, to give profit.
Again, taking up the practical operations of John Smith's case, we will suppose that this is his first attempt at saving. As he comes into the bank, if intelligent, he will look about him, and see a very plainly expressed printed notice, headed, "how to open an account." If unintelligent, or uneducated, he will probably apply to the janitor as a guide, philosopher and friend, who shall give him the necessary information for becoming a member of the numerous partnership, which owns the handsome building in which he stands, and all its contents. Following the directions of the notice referred to, he goes to one of the tables or desks on which are writing materials and all the necessary blank forms, takes a deposit ticket, which is printed on green paper to make it easily distinguishable, and writes,
First, the amount of his proposed investment; second, his name; third, his address, and lastly, the date.
It is not usual in Savings banks, in general, that the tickets, either for drawing or depositing, should be made out by the depositor. This bank finds it in every respect preferable so to do. The average style of writing is better than would probably be the case if made out by a clerk working rapidly, because each depositor naturally takes pains with his own ticket. There is the further great advantage that we have his evidence as to the amount and circumstances in case of future dispute. It is too much the practice in Savings banks to assume that the depositor is uneducated and ignorant. The writer once mentioned this idea of tickets made out by the depositors themselves in the largest of our Savings banks, and was answered, "well one out of every three of our depositors is unable to write." He inquired whether this proportion was obtained by actual count or by guess. On being informed that it was merely a guess, he suggested that a count be made of a few pages of the signature book, and it was found that the proportion was one in nineteen; that is, eighteen able to write, to one who is obliged to make a cross. In our bank the proportion is about one to twenty. It is found also that the depositors, when once accustomed to this more dignified way of doing business, far prefer it. They feel as if they were treated with more respect, not as inferiors or subjects of charity, and finally there is a great saving of time and error for the receiving teller.
This he carries to the window occupied by the receiving teller. He hands the ticket and the dollar to that official, and also names the amount aloud, "one dollar," or if English be not his native language, he is perfectly at liberty to say "ein thaler," "un dollard," "uno scudo," "un peso," or whatever equivalent expression in his own vernacular may signify his intent. Now the functions of the receiving teller begin, and Smith is only informed that he must next step to the signature desk. Here lies a large book on a revolving desk, and, like a guest in a hotel, he is requested to write his name and address, or if unable to write, his name is written for him, and he makes his mark, but instead of getting the number of his room, the number of his pass book is printed opposite the line on which he writes. The clerk, whom he now sees, obtains from him, besides his name and address, the following information: Where do you live? What is your age? Are you married, single, or a widower? Are you colored? What is, or was, your father's name? Mother's name? Wife's name? Occupation?
The particular points of information obtained from the depositor vary in different banks. The place of nativity is taken by some, and this would seem an excellent test of identity. The color of the eye, as being the one bodily characteristic which is unchangeable, is also taken by some institutions. Perhaps in the future photography may come to our aid, and instantaneous photographs of small size be taken on the occasion of the first deposit.
The entries in the signature book having been made, the clerk again asks Mr. Smith "how much money did you deposit?" and on being answered correctly hands him the pass book.