Throughout the history of our country, banks have changed their services and offered new technologies to respond to their customers' needs. What has not changed, however, is the vital role banks play in the lives of the people they serve, and the importance of trust between bank, customer, and community.
Banking services at this time included exchanging local currency for notes that would be accepted in other regions, and weighing coins to determine if they had been made from metals other than gold or silver.
Residents in growing towns could establish a savings account with initial deposits of as little as fifty cents, and banks worked to encourage savings.
To certify important documents, banks developed their own special seals, made by imprinting hot wax with an engraved press.
Before the Civil War, there was no centralized currency. Banks tried to accept only sound notes that would be readily accepted by others. This photo is a $20 dollar note issued by the Bank of Westminster, and retained by the Westminster Union Bank.
In Unionist strongholds like Frederick, banks provided stability. In southern cities, most banks collapsed because of unstable conditions. The Confederate States of America printed its own money and, as the costs of the war mounted, printed so much that it ultimately became worthless. The call to arms pulled many bank officers away from their homes so that banks were managed from afar.
The introduction of checks required a check canceling system, with banks imprinting a number on checks so they could not be re-used. Other efforts to provide security at this time included banks building safes and offering safe-deposit boxes to their customers.
While earlier banks had offered limited services, banks after the Civil War saw the need to consolidate a variety of banking services under one roof. Financiers in Baltimore established The Mercantile Trust & Deposit in 1884, the first "financial department stores," because it offered savings accounts, safe-deposit boxes, trust services, and more
Just as they had during the first World War, banks administered a savings bond program during World War II. They also took on the additional responsibility of maintaining ration accounts for their customers, who received coupons that effectively limited the amount of sugar, gasoline, butter, and coffee in order to help the war effort.
The affluence that followed World War II had a tremendous impact on banking. The explosion of suburban living meant banks needed to build branch offices to better serve their customers, and they also added conveniences such as drive-through teller windows and night depositories.
Demand for mortgages and other loans soared, particularly among returning soldiers, and banks began to offer installment loans.