Check-like documents were a common way to send New Year’s greetings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There were many varieties but they had the common themes of wishing prosperity and good fortune in the new year. The 1908 piece above is the most intricately printed piece I have encountered. It was sent by Dr. Jennie L. Kelly, DDS, a Chicago-area dentist.
The earliest example I have seen is this piece from 1881. It asks the Goddess of Fortune to bestow 365 happy days upon the bearer. The coins on the left do not show up well when scanned but they are the obverse and reverse of an 1837 Seated Liberty Silver Dollar. This is an interesting choice as the Seated Liberty design was replaced by the Morgan Dollar in 1878. It is possible that the printer first made these checks prior to 1878 and did not change the design after the new coin was introduced.
In case you didn’t notice, the check from 1908 accounted for leap year by wishing the recipient 366 days of Health, Happiness and Prosperity. William C. Braithwaite went cheap with his 1884 greetings by modifying a check from a previous year to account for that year’s extra day.
This example from 1906 was a salesman’s sample. It was made by the same printer as the 1908 check, Edwards, Deutsch & Heitman of Chicago. Since this piece is Sample No. 2 it is apparent that they had more than one design in a year.
This pair of pieces from 1917 and 1918 not only wish happy days for the recipient but also an Allied victory in WWI. This bilingual issue suggests a Canadian printer but the imprint indicates it came from J. Boucas, a stationary store in Cairo.
As the previous two pieces and this example show, New Year’s checks were not limited to the United States. This example was printed and used in Havana, Cuba.
This example from Nigeria is the latest date I have seen for a New Year’s check. It is dated December 25, 1962. Most examples with Christmas as the date are from the UK or parts of the Empire. For some reason it is made out for 366 pounds even though neither 1962 or 1963 were leap years.
Holiday greeting checks are not limited to western usage. This check from India extends Deepavali greetings. Deepavali or Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights and is held at the end of October or early November.
Finally, there is this check from 1920. Fifteen year old Nondas Morton must have been on Santa’s naughty list in 1920 as he only wished her twenty-two happy days for the coming year.
May 2019 bring you success in your endeavors.