The Ecphorizer

The Checks People Write
Tod Wicks

Issue #45 (May 1985)

Having processed a large number of renewals and new subscriptions in the last few months, I began to notice a few things about the check styles of our subscribers, and I thought it would be fun to share this bit of nonsense with you.

To categorize and count the checks, I constructed

What does this tell us? Not a whole hell of a lot.

a branch system which works out much like an outline. For instance, the highest levels are "Basic" and "Decorator/Deviant."

[quoteright]Under the Basic variety, the breakdown is like this:

Basic Blue (the color of the large majority) checks (69)
A. Basic wavy or other design (49)
B. Bank logo in background (11)
C. White borders (8)

Of the Basic Blues, one was a "Preferred Account," one had a horse head and another had a skier next to the name.

The other types of Basic checks were

Basic Green (12) and,
Basic Yellow (7).
Of these, only one varied from the basic wavy line background design with a bank logo.

The checks I placed into the "Deviant" category were those which were long business-style checks. There were eight of these: Three doctors, three other businesses, and two individual accounts. Into the "Deviant" slot I also placed the one check which was labeled "The Ego Account" and the three "Merrill-Lynch Money Management" checks.

The rest of the checks are of the "Decorator" variety. You know these: They have various designs or colorful backgrounds. The simplest of these were printed with a yellow backgrounds, had somewhat ornate borders, and wound up with some artistic expression to the left of the check writer's name. There were 20 of these: seven eagles, four initials, one American flag, and eight other assorted pictures.

Thirty-six checks had background pictures. Of these, six were simply shades of the same color.

What sort of pictures were these? Those that depicted mountains, forests, or plains accounted for 12; ships, beach, or waterfront scenes were in seven; while there was one surfer from a bank in Hawaii, and one seashell picture.

A number of the graphics depicted animal life. We had one each of fish, bear, fox, dog, and raccoon. Six checks bore art of historical scenes, including two covered bridges. There were three with roses, and one rainbow.

Other items of note on these checks were the naming conventions. Sixty-seven checks were imprinted as individual accounts while 55 were joint. One of the joint account checks had the spouse's name crossed out, and there were two joint accounts where the joint signers had different last names. Ten checks came in with just the name imprinted while three had no name whatsoever.

What does this tell us? Not a whole hell of a lot. Just that most subscribers in the last few months sent checks printed on basic blue paper, and are individual account holders who have their entire address listed on the check.

Oh, and one footnote: Of the 150+ checks that took part in this survey, only one was left unsigned by its maker. That's a pretty good ratio. 

Business Manager TOD WICKS collects computers the way other people collect pocket calculators. One of his latest is a Macintosh. This is not your ordinary Mac, however; its "mouse" is encased in a little furry jacket with tiny ears. If you find holes eaten in your address label you'll know why.

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