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Barclays Bank Cheques


Barclays Bank Cheques - The Basics

Roger Outing

Created 02-06-2012


Barclays was established in 1896 when 20 private banks (known as the ‘foundation banks’) combined to form Barclay & Co Ltd.  A further 24 banks (known as the ‘amalgamated banks’) were taken over by Barclays between 1897 and 1968. Barclays developed a national network of branches which numbered more than 2,000 branches at its peak.  The number of branches has decreased in recent years. There are over 250 varietes of Barclays Bank cheques known – and there is still a very good chance of discovering new ones!.  

Four Different Titles
These four different bank titles will provide the basic structure for a cheque collection:
         1. Barclay & Co Ltd from 1896
         2. Barclays Bank Ltd from 1917
         3. Barclays Bank PLC from 1980
         4. Barclays  from 1990

Six Design Categories
Whilst there is considerable range and variety of design for Barclay's cheques the following six design categories will encompass most of the cheques and provide a more detailed system for organising your cheque collection. Examples of each of the design categories can be viewed in the gallery presentations to the right - select thumbnail for a bigger pic.

1. Overprinted
1896 to 1920’s - Cheques of the original foundation banks or the amalgamated banks that have been overprinted with the Barclay & Co Ltd title.  A wide range of designs from over forty separate banks are known.  Some are readily available - others rarely seen.
2. Local designs
1897 to 1920’s - Cheques designs of the original foundation banks or the amalgamated banks but now printed just with the new Barclay & Co Ltd title.  Still a wide range of different designs available but now all with the first bank title of Barclay & Co Ltd.
3. Blue panel
1900 to 1940 - Black print on white background featuring a single blue security panel and a side panel with a wide range of local designs.  The old bank names are often retained in the design of the side panel.  Lots and lots of varieties. Note that the blue security panel generally consists of micro printing of the bank name.  In 1917 the Barclay & Co Ltd  title was changed to Barclays Bank Ltd.
4. Blue Background
1940 to 1946 - Black print on a blue background which consists of micro printing of the bank name.  The ‘Black Eagle’ symbol now introduced as a feature in the side panel.  The old local bank names now begin to disappear although just a few examples do continue at a few individual branches e.g. Goslings in Fleet St.
5. Green
1946 to 1970 - Black print on green background with ‘Black Eagle’ symbol to the left.  The corporate style now begins to predominate.  Numerous variations in printers can be found - and some are frustratingly difficult to locate.
6. Turquosie
1970 to present - "Barclays" in the distinctive turquoise livery on blue background. The designation 'Ltd' is replaced by 'PLC' in 1980.

Forming a Cheque Collection.
A first step would be to obtain examples from each of the basic design catagories and noting where and when the different bank titles are introduced.  Some examples of the overprinted cheques from the various foundation and amalgamated banks would then illustrate the origins of the bank. The blue panel types are known in a wide range of local varieties and with careful selection the progress of Barclays through the first decades of the 20 th Century can be shown.  

The post 1940’s cheque types, black on blue micro print and then black on green, are more readily available and show how a common corporate style was slowly introduced.  From the 1970’s the turquoise type cheque show the influence of modern marketing techniques with the introduction of a "house style" that was applied to cheques, stationery, advertising and premises.

Cheque Catalogue
There is a catalogue The Cheques of Barclays Bank – A Guide for Collectors.
Only £5 + postage.  Probably makes sense to get one.  More Info

Further Sources
History of Barclays Bank Limited by P.W. Mathews & Anthony W. Tuke. London, 1926, 440+ pages, illustrated.  Great detail about all the various private and joint stock banks that were incorporated into Barclays.  Essential reading of you can find a copy.
Barclays Bank Ltd  1926 -1969 by A. W. Tuke and R.J.H. Gillamn. 1972.  London, 1972, 150+ pages, illustrated.  A more general review of the Bank's progress up to 1969.  

Roger Outing
Created 02-06-2012


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