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Early Office Museum

Antique Check Canceling Machines

A 1915 B. F. Cummins Co. ad stated that "Perforating no longer means 'Check Protecting.'  It means a new and better way to Date, Number, Mark--10 or more at once.  Think of it in connection with the following: Dating incoming mail, numbering orders, marking orders or invoices 'Entered' with date. Cancelling and receipting checks, notes, statements, bills.  Everything which requires a permanent, unchangeable marking." 

Patent or Advertising Image Name, Years of Patents and Observed Ads, Manufacturer Image
Large Machines for Canceling Stacks of Checks
1866 Canceling Press F Hovey Pat No 56498 July 17.jpg (83326 bytes)
Image from 1866 patent
Canceling Machine for Checks
Patented 1866 ~ Advertised 1866
E. B. Clayton's Sons
New York, NY
U.S. Patent No. 56,498
The 1866 advertisement says that before this machine was available, the cancellation of checks was "very imperfectly done by the clumsy canceling hammer, producing a very defective accomplishment of the purpose, and a jarring and noise so unpleasant in a Banking Room, as well as the frequent tearing and injury to the documents. ... One important improvement is the facility with which the knives perforate any number of documents at one time ... The form of the puncture is of the usual style, designated as the square cross."  The 1866 price was $30.
1883 Stimpson Perforating Machine full adv OM.jpg (62595 bytes) Perforating Machine
Advertised 1883
Edwin B. Stimpson
New York, NY
"This machine is designed for cancelling checks, bonds, tickets, etc."
. Cummins Canceling Perforator (a.k.a. Cancelling Machine, Perforating Machine, Dating Canceler )
Patented 1889-92 ~ Advertised c. 1899-1930
B. F. Cummins Co., Chicago, IL
Cummins Perforator Co., Chicago, IL, and New York, NY

The company  produced many models. 
Typically, perforates checks with the word PAID and the date (MM:DD:YY).
1906 ad for the Cummins No. 12 Dating Canceler, which was similar if not identical to the machine directly below, stated:
"Cancels and dates ten checks of average thickness each stroke."  The No. 12, which weighed 26 lb., was $67.50 in 1928.
In 1915, a B. F. Cummins ad claimed the company had been specialists in perforating machines for 28 years, that is, since 1887.

Cummins_No._12_Perforating_Machine_Cummins_Perforator_Co.jpg (102930 bytes)
Cummins No. 12 Perforating Machine

1889_Cummins_No._15_perforator.jpg (19091 bytes)
Security Library Perforator, Cancelling Machine No. 15, advertised c. 1899-1928. 
18 lb. $25 in 1928.
BF Cummins Co Chicago Check Perforator OM.JPG (12530 bytes)
No. 2
Cummins_No._3_canceler.jpg (42333 bytes)
No. 3 Cancellor
1892_BF_Cummings_Perforating_Machine_Model_16_OM.JPG (35410 bytes)
No. 16
Cummins_No._35_check_perforator.jpg (26478 bytes)
No. 35 Check Perforator
1892_Cummins_No._37_Perforator_Check_Canceler_OMx.JPG (27276 bytes)
No. 37
Abbott_Cancelling_Machine_OM.jpg (73090 bytes) Abbott Canceling Machine
Introduced 1893 ~ Advertised 1893
Abbott Machine Co.
Chicago, IL
"Weight 100 lbs. It perforates 25 to 30 thicknesses of paper at one time."
1894_Century_Check_Canceller_Century_Cancelling_Machine_Co_Phila_OM.JPG (56446 bytes) Century Check Canceller
Century Cancelling Machine Co.
Philadelphia, PA
. BBT Check Canceller

This perforates checks with small holes that spell the word "PAID"
BBT_perforating_machine_perforates_PAID.JPG (62595 bytes)
. American Perforator
Top machine: Advertised 1914
Bottom machine: Patented 1915
American Perforator Co.
Chicago, IL

Top machine perforates checks with the word PAID
 and the date. Top photograph courtesy of Larry Wilhelm

The company produced many models.

American Check Canceler wil 1 OM.JPG (25180 bytes)
1915_American_Perforator_Co.jpg (17631 bytes)
Small Devices for Canceling Individual Checks
. In the late 1860s, Wm. Staehlen, New York, NY, advertised a "brass slide check cancellor." but the ad did not include an illustration. .
1879_1882_Victor_Stapler_Driver_1883_adx.jpg (80079 bytes) Victor Paper Fastener and Check Canceller
Patented 1879-82 ~ Advertised 1883-84
A. A. Weeks
New York, NY
Device is a paper fastener at one end and a check canceller at the other.
1879_Victor_OM.jpg (10601 bytes)
1910_Spear_Cancelling_File_OMx.jpg (7391 bytes) Check Canceling File
Advertised 1881-1930


Examples of Perforated Check Cancellations

1879_Check_peforated_PAID_in_circle.jpg (59788 bytes)
PAID spelled out in perforations inside a perforated circle, seen on this 1879 check.
1895_Check_with_PAID.jpg (54361 bytes)
PAID spelled out in perforations, seen on checks dated from 1895 onward.
1909_Check_PAID_with_date.jpg (65609 bytes)
PAID plus the date spelled out in perforations, seen on checks dated from 1905 onward.

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