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Late 19th Century Austria Currency

 
 
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 02:09 am
Would a newspaper pay a writer with a check in 1870 in a larger Austrian city?
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 4,047 • Replies: 33
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Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 12:06 pm
@jdickstein,
I'm not sure how common the practice was but there is no reason why it could not have been done. The use of checks in place of hard currency goes back to at least the early 19th Century. There are references to the practice in the 1830s and 1840s.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 12:24 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Lustig Andrei wrote:
There are references to the practice in the 1830s and 1840s.
But certainly not for Austria! Until the late 19th century, checks were very uncommon in Austria (and Germany). [And not used now since more than 20 years.] The first laws regulating businesses with checks were written about 1910.

So I'm rather sure that a writer would have got his Gulden in cash, paper money or coins.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 12:30 pm
@jdickstein,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheque
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 12:47 pm
@jdickstein,
Most definitely they did. Cheque writing in a more common fashion started in the Netherlands in the 17th century and was adopted by England shortly thereafter. After Napoleon was defeated in 1815, other European nations adopted the concept of cheque writing.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 01:00 pm
@CalamityJane,
I still doubt it.

Checks were first and only used from about 1850 in (the German state) Hamburg. After 1871, a Berlin bank became the second to start businesses with checks. (Source: Die Entstehung des Scheckgesetzes vom 11. März 1908)

Besides some general statements (like "check businesses didn't start in Germany and Austria before the end of the 19th century" in an 'Enzyclodia des Geldwesens'), I can't find a source specially about Austria.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 01:41 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Seems odd that Germany and Austria would be so backward, but of course you know best.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 01:46 pm
@ehBeth,
I suppose that's one of the reasons that checks never were popular here and are literally unknown to most since decades. (Hamburg was an exceptional case because of its strong business relations to England.)
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 01:53 pm
In my experience, Austrians still don't use checks. They use what's called a Zahlschein, which is something like a money order.

In the nineteenth century, I doubt that many people in the US were getting paid by check, let alone in Austria. The typical procedure for hourly employees was to get paid every week in cash. I imagine a journalist who was getting paid by the article (or column inch or word or whatever) would get paid in cash as well, although it might not be weekly.

EDIT: so, in other words, I agree with Walter.
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 02:02 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
In the nineteenth century, I doubt that many people in the US were getting paid by check


See Edgar Allen Poe's "A Purloined Letter," first published ca. 1842. At the end of this classic short story the protagonist, Dupin, is paid by check. (Now, granted the story is set in Paris, not Austria. Poe, however, was writing in the USA, indicating that, at the least, he had a passing familiarity with the practice of being paid by check.)
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 02:16 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
I have no doubt that Poe was familiar with checks, but two things to remember about your example: (1) the check given to Dupin was for a very large sum (50,000 francs) -- just the kind of transaction that would typically be carried out with some sort of negotiable instrument; and (2) Dupin wasn't an employee, he was an independent contractor. If he were a policeman being paid a regular wage by an employer rather than a private investigator being paid a reward by a client, I suspect he would have been paid in cash.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 02:20 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Well, since Poe writes such - here's a slightly different opinion:
Quote:
En France, les premiers chèques ont été émis en 1826 par la Banque de france sous le nom de "mandats blancs".
Ils permettaient d’opérer le retrait de fonds reçus en dépôt sans intérêt par la Banque.
Les chèques ont été introduits en France sous leur forme actuelle avec la loi du 14 juin 1865 mais leur usage est resté peu répandu jusqu’à la Seconde guerre mondiale.
Source: Le chèque : histoire et caractéristiques
Summary: the first checks were issued in France in 1826, called "white mandator". Checks were introduced formally in France on July 14, 1865, but weren't frequently used until after WWII.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jul, 2012 09:18 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Which raises a question: during the July Crisis in 1914, Germany gave Austria-Hungary its assurances that it would stand by its ally regardless of what Vienna did with regard to Serbia. English-speaking historians routinely refer to this as the "blank check." But if Germans (and Austrians) don't normally use checks, what do their historians call it?
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 12:58 am
@joefromchicago,
The (German) term "Blankoscheck" was first used in 1908 with the annextion of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 1914, this was called mainly "Blankovollmacht" ('blanc authorisation") but 'blanc check' ("Blankoscheck") as well.

The term (and how to use it) of checks was known ...
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 08:51 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Thanks, Walter. I don't recall ever seeing either of those terms, but then it has been a while since I've read anything by German diplomatic historians in the original version.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 09:26 am
@joefromchicago,
"Blankoscheck" is today more common in (colloquial) German than "Blankovollmacht" (which is the term, you would find more in written media).
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 10:16 am
This is fascinating stuff. Thanks, everyone.

Joe(it's why I come here.)Nation
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 10:40 am
@Joe Nation,
As you say, Joe, this is really fascinating stuff to me as well. However, I'd like to gently remind everyone that the OP's original question was not what this piece of paper might be called in German but,rsther, whether such a negotiable instrument was likely to be in use in Austria of the 1870s as payment to someone contributing to a newspaper. (Perhaps a free-lancer, not an employee?)
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 11:23 am
It should be remembered that workers, once upon a time, would receive their pay in what were called "pay envelopes." These were actual envelopes that contained actual money.

http://www3.niu.edu/~td0raf1/radicalunionism/pay_envelope_1934.jpg http://www.rancba.org.au/images/Pay%20Envelope.jpg

Nowadays, everyone has a checking account and everyone is paid by check (or direct deposit). But that is a relatively recent innovation. In the nineteenth century, a bank account was a luxury for many blue collar workers, and they lived their lives on a strictly cash basis.
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 11:28 am
@joefromchicago,
Pay envelopes for blue collar jobs in construction or manufacturing were in widespread use as recently as the 1950s and (probably) into the early 1960s. As a teen-ager, working summer jobs, I remember them well.
 

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