Museum Talk

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Antique check writer on display at Buffalo Island Museum.

One item in the office area of the Buffalo Island Museum is a vintage F&E Check protector manufactured by the Hedman Company of Chicago, Ill. It was donated by Paul Palmer. Business people of the 19th century didn't fully trust banks. They needed to protect their checks from being changed or altered by the payee, someone else, or even the banker.

In 1914, Hebert R. Hedman borrowed five thousand dollars from his father to start the Hedman Manufacturing Company to produce a check protector, also called a check writer, that would protect businesses from forgery.

His machine could write out the complete dollar amount in one simple operation. His two main competitors, Fessler and Evans, tried to buy his patent but instead they reached an agreement with him to distribute the Hedman machine and started the F&E Manufacturing Company.

The check protector at the museum is from the mid 1900s, and is in excellent condition. The check was positioned in the check writing machine and using a series of levers, the monetary amount of the check was entered. This amount was printed onto the check by pulling the lever at the side. The machine leaves a numerical impression in the payment field and leaves very small ink shreds in the paper. This discourages any attempt to alter the check.

Hedman check protectors are still made today but the hand check protectors, like this one at the museum, are considered antique. Electronic ones are used today by banks for writing cashier checks and the Postal Service for money orders. In 1996 a software was established that prints a physical draft of a customer's check and then a business can deposit it into any bank the same day.

Visit the museum and see the office items used in earlier times. There is an Underwood manual typewriter, century old cash register, notary stamp, telegraph machine, old black telephone, adding machines, ledger books, and other items that are considered obsolete today.

Museum hours are 12:30-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Admission is free. For more information and pictures about the Buffalo Island Museum, see our Facebook page.

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