This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
The common way and which seemingly is good enough for a small business is to provide small cards printed with the small sums and perhaps a line or two, as:
Your Bill Is:
Please Pay at the Cashier's Desk.
These are kept in separate compartment boxes like silver change according to their denomination; the headwaiter or cashier or cook, or whoever has the responsibility of keeping them in charge, hands one to the waiter with the order, who lays it beside the customer's plate. If the latter orders something additional the waiter takes away the first check and replaces it with another bearing the larger amount. On leaving, the customer hands the check and his money to the cashier or proprietor. This is the simplest and commonest of all methods, yet it affords scarcely any protection to the proprietor if the waiters care to be in collusion with customers, as they can easily manage to change checks or give those of less denomination than the dish ought to be sold for; in short, for a dozen reasons this plan is useless for protection, but is merely a means of expediting business by putting all the changing of money into the hands of one person, the cashier, who does nothing else. Yet, this is the only method employed in the crowded bakery lunch houses before mentioned, where the waiters carry assorted checks loose in their apron pockets and hand them out to customers as near right as they can remember to do, or as near as the checks in pocket will fit the case, for they have not time to go after more always.
There the great effort of the proprietors is to prevent the customers going out without yielding up either the check or the monty, and watchmen try to keep eyes on the occupants of the lunch stools as they change and move towards the door. The same free-and-easy plan suffices for the dairy lunch houses and most of the common restaurants in Chicago, and it speaks well for the honor and honesty of both customers and waiters that such an insuffi cient system of checking can prevail to such an extent and the proprietors not feel any appreciable loss from it. Even in the best oyster houses, where the individual bills may vary from fifty cents to five dollars or any higher sum, the method is the same and only a little more strict in the custody of the tickets, the proprietors receiving the money perhaps being able to keep a very fair run of the orders as they are served.