Guys' Point of View

Life and business perspectives told from a Guy's point of view!

In 1891 Marcellas Berry an employee of American Express
invented the Travelers Cheque. American Express set the
standard for Travelers Cheques and Gift Cheques.
Above is a reproduction of the first Travelers Cheque issued in 1891.

Since 1975, American Express has been synonymous with its classic advertising slogan "Don't Leave Home Without It" when it was devised by David Ogilvy of Ogilvy & Mather, a preeminent New York City advertising agency. Today, many people are only familiar with American Express as an issuer of a variety of credit and charge cards. However, before American Express issued the first charge card in 1959 (they were the first company to issue the embossed plastic cards that we still use today), it was known for decades as a financial services company. In fact, American Express started out in 1850 and in its early history they enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the movement of express shipments such as goods, securities, currency, etc.) throughout New York State. Over the years, American Express has been in the pulse of many businesses and corporate ventures; and without a doubt the company has a very interesting and colorful history in financial services.

On this day in 1891, American Express copyrights its Travelers Cheque, which will be a boon to globe-trotting customers as a protection against theft and other loss of cash. The cheque business began quietly; in its first year of sales only 248 cheques (worth $9,120) were sold, but by 1909, annual sales were $23 million. During 2000, sales of American Express Travelers Cheques increased to $24.6 billion.

In regards to the creation and patent of American Express Travelers Cheques, inventor and company employee Marcellus F. Berry wrote, "There’s one thing every person does in a distinctive way. That is writing his signature. Therefore the foolproof device for taking money to strange places must carry the signature of the bearer. It must declare that it will be cashed only when a second, and matching, signature is added before witnesses." Berry was granted four copyrights for "the travelers cheque" which he himself named.



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