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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Banks and Ball Points

(image from: Vintage Ad Browser)

My father worked all his life for one of the major banks in Australia and was "held up" three times during his career. I predict that one day banks will be an entirely different thing in the future and we will not have such a thing as cash. He also reminded me of another item that we take for granted that was relatively recent and even now being superseded by computers....
The Ball Point Pen. 

He Writes;

"Did you know that ball point pens weren't invented until about the 1940s. Up until then "push" pens were the only form of writing with ink and only the rich could afford to but a fountain pen (a pen that held its own supply of ink.)
When I joined the Bank in 1958, ball pint pens where banned. All entries in bank books and records were made using an ink (supplied by the Bank) that was (supposedly) insoluble.
One day in 1961 a drunk fell off the wharf in Port Moresby. They fished him out but in his pockets was a Commonwealth Saving Bank bank book. The entries therein had all but disappeared except one which had been made by a forbidden ball point pen.
In 1962 ball point pens were issued to all branches for use by the staff. Typical of the Bank, the issue of the pens (which cost stores department about 8c each) was "strictly" controlled and we had to sign a register for them; we also had to hand in the empty pen when we needed another. Remember, though, I was being paid about $7.50 per week and petrol (for the motor bike I owned) was about 22c per gallon (4.5 litres)"

(Some will remember bank books where all our transactions were recorded by hand. I don't know what it is about bank books but for some reason savings seemed more "real" when I saw them written and tallied in a bank book)

"I was living in Stanthorpe at that time. I was the "junior" so I used to go to work about 7:30 am to chop the wood for the slow combustion fire that heated the whole branch. By the time I got the fire going and the place started to heat up it was 8:30 am and everyone else would come in and stand by the "fire" to warm up before starting work.
My position as junior didn't last and a fellow named P.S. took over fire lighting duties when he joined up. He was from Balandene just South of Stanthorpe. I lost track of him after I left Stanthorpe"

This is a picture of the Commonwealth Bank in Stanthorpe QLD taken around 1940.


  1. Dear Tanya, I have been reading your blog for a few days, and am so enjoying it. I live a few suburbs over, in East Launceston, trying, like you, to fill up my yard with edible plants and live a bit more simply. You seem to have a world of experience in so many of the skills I am trying to aquire, so I will be back here often to learn more.

  2. I still have my old bank books (alas nil balance!) and I miss not having one!!!!

    1. Do you remember how they used to smell too Jules? A nice combo of money and paper. My Dad used to come home smelling like that.

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  4. When I was in Infant and Junior school we had bank books (I think it was with the Yorkshire Penny Bank) that we paid money into at school. I think you had to go into the branch to draw money out though.


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