Thursday, 22 October 2009

Scottish Banking(part 3)

Had the eccentric banker lived but a short time
longer, there is no saying where his great fortune
might have been bestowed. One of David Buchanan’s
Virginia partners, a cute American, raised a serious
lawsuit against the firm, which assumed such
proportions that, whatever way it might have terminated,
would have damaged, if it did not ruin,the estate. As
it was, however, the windfall enabled Mr. Buchanan
to come off unscathed ; yet everybody said that
sharing his painfully 'gathered gear' among the lawyers
was the last thing Robert would have submitted to,
could he have foreseen such a catastrophe.

The office of the Ship Bank stood on the west side
of the foot of Glassford Street, entering from Argyle
Street. It had been the city mansion of some
 aristocratic family, and certainly was not built for a bank,
being destitute of all those artistic and expensive
decorations which in modern times appear essential to
the success and stability of a banking company. The
cashier’s room was in the front, and the public office
in a small, dismally dark room behind. The town
house of Mr. Robert Carrick was on the upper floors;
and the house of the porter,John Crosbie,was behind
on the ground floor. The bank opened at 10, but was
shut from 12 to 1 o’clock, so that the officials might
bring up their books, and it was reopened between
2 and 3 o’clock. Bills were handed in to Mr. Carrick,
and when they received a favourable verdict he tore a
small piece from the bottom of the paper, which was
the mark of approval and the order on the teller to
honour and pay. The sweating chamber was the large
outer lobby, where the customers were kept standing
in suspense. When the bill was not approved, it was
politely returned to the supplicant by a raw Highland
lad, without other response than it was " not
convenient to-day." In the public room sat the teller,
Mr.Michael Rowan, a most worthy gentleman, who had
his country house (Linthouse) near Govan. The
public were kept within a pen, enclosed by a partition of
some four feet in height. There was no apology for a
counter. The cheques were handed over the pen, and
if found correct Mr. Rowan rose from his three-legged
stool to a large wooden desk in which he kept the
bank—notes. He placed the lid of this money chest on
his head, and slowly counted out the required sum,
which he handed over the barricade. The receiver
had then to check the notes either in the dark, in the
room; or,when he desired some more space and light,
in the lobby of access.

Much more to follow................

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