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Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

The usual instruments of credit by means of which travellers abroad draw upon their deposits at home are known as circular letters of credit. These forms of credit are of such common use that every one should be familiar with their form. We reproduce here a facsimile of the first and second pages of a circular letter for £1000, copied with slight change of names from an actual instrument. The first page shows the credit proper authorising the various correspondents of the bank issuing it to pay the holder, whose signature is given on its face, money to the extent of £1000. The names of the banks who are authorised to advance money upon the letter are usually printed upon the third and fourth pages, though letters issued by well-known banking houses are usually recognised by any banking house to which they are presented.

The second illustration shows how the holder of a particular letter availed himself of its advantages. It gives the names of the banks to which he presented his letter, and the amounts paid by each.

With such a letter a traveller could make a trip around the world and not have in his pocket at any one time more gold or silver or bills than would be necessary to meet immediate expenses.

Suppose that A. B. is about to make a European trip. He goes to a bank doing a foreign business, say Brown Bros. & Co. of New York City, and asks for a circular letter for £1000, for which he is obliged to pay about $4880. Copies of A. B.'s signature are left with Brown Bros. & Co., and may perhaps be forwarded to their foreign banking houses. When A. B. presents himself at a Glasgow or Pari

s bank with his letter of credit, and asks for a payment upon it, the banker asks him to sign a draft on Brown Bros. & Co., New York, or more likely on their London bank, for the amount required, which amount is immediately indorsed on the second page of the letter of credit, so that when the indorsements equal the face the letter is fully paid. A. B. is simply drawing upon his own account-that is, upon the money he deposited to secure the letter of credit.

Payment is usually made upon the simple identification or comparison of signatures. If a traveller should lose his letter of credit he should notify at once the bank issuing it and, if possible, the banks upon which drawn.

Second page of a letter of credit (used).

There are several other forms of travellers' credits in use. The Cheque Bank, an English institution with a branch in New York City, issues to travellers a book of cheques, each of which can be filled up only to a limited amount, as shown by printed and perforated notices appearing on the face. For instance, for £100 one can buy a cheque-book containing fifty blank cheques, each good, when properly filled up, for £2. Each of these cheques is really a certified cheque, only it is certified in advance of issue. Any of the thousand or more foreign banks which are agents for the Cheque Bank sell these cheque-books, and cash the cheques when presented. The amounts that may be short drawn go toward the cost of a new cheque-book, or may be returned in cash. The American and other express companies have forms of travellers' cheque-books very similar to those issued by the Cheque Bank.

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