Among the many ordinary historic objects housed in our collection, there are some that can elicit a pang of remembrance, not necessarily for their original use, but for their very connectedness to people we may have known and loved. Consider the lowly Check Writer, or Check Protector, and one local resident’s memories stirred by the little machine:
“Grandpa bought it after WWII and used it to write checks for his business, Glen Holly Dairy Farm…I remember seeing the machine and asking about it, and he showed me how you set the amount for the check, put it into the machine and cranked it, and the numbers came out all fancy…it did make quite an impression on me. I remember asking my mom, ‘Why don’t we have a machine like that to write our checks?’ and she told me that Grandpa probably wrote more checks than we did!”
The Hedman Check Writer was developed by Chicago native Herbert R. Hedman. He engineered and patented the process by which checks could be embossed with the exact amount, slightly shredding and macerating the check stock with indelible ink, making them tamper proof. He started The Hedman Manufacturing Company in 1914, with a $5,000 loan from his father. The Check Protector, like the one above, was its flagship product.
Hedman’s company succeeded in Chicago, and was soon run as a subsidiary of the F. and E. Check Protector Company. Although the digital world has ushered in many changes regarding how we do business, check protectors are still used by many corporations that transfer large amounts of money (like banks). We can still see the “imprint” left by Mr. Hedman’s invention every time we pick up a cashier’s check from the local savings and loan!