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Thursday, 9 February 2012



The earliest known bank was the Egibi Bank of Neuchanezar in Babylon, which was established in 575BC.

The New Testament city of Ephesus was extraordinarily prosperous. Its tourist trade brought in so much revenue that included in the town was one of the world’s first banks.

In 1318 the Italian Lombard family were granted land in what is now Lombard Street, London.
The Lombards might lay claim to being the earliest bank in Britain, with their goldsmith/pawnbroking/moneylending business there.

Casa delle compere e dei banchi di San Giorgio (The Bank of Saint George) was founded in 1407 in Genoa to Italy to consolidate the public debt, which had been escalating due to the war with Venice for trading and financial dominance. It was the oldest chartered bank in Europe and of the world.

Christopher Columbus maintained accounts at the Casa delle compere e dei banchi di San Giorgio, as did Ferdinand and Isabella. Columbus stored his loot from his travels to the New World there.

Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, built in 1472 to give loans to the poor, is the longest running bank in the world.

Il Banco di Santo Spirito (The Bank of the Holy Spirit) was a bank founded by Pope Paul V on December 13, 1605. The Bank was the first national bank in Europe (as the bank of the Papal States).

Morris & Clayton was one of the earliest banks in Britain. The earliest surviving English cheque was drawn on this bank on February 16, 1659, for the sum of £400, handwritten in ink on paper, with a trace of sealing wax.

The earliest example of a national bank, established in some form of partnership with the state, was the Bank of Sweden, which was founded in 1668. Today its the world's oldest surviving bank. 

The Bank of England (see below) began its existence on July 27, 1694. It was created by Royal charter and capitalized by a public share subscription. In return for this privilege, the Bank loaned the Government £1.2 million at 8 per cent interest, plus an annual management fee of £4,000.

Banks in the City of London used to identify themselves with coats of arms for people who couldn't read.

Founded in Birmingham, England in 1765, the original symbol of  Lloyd's Bank was a beehive before the black horse was introduced in 1884.

The first American commercial bank, the Bank of North America, opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 7, 1782. It was thus the Nation's first de facto central bank.

By 1783, Congress and several states including Massachusetts enacted legislation, allowing Americans to pay taxes with Bank of North America certificates. Within three years, the Bank was considered a creditworthy institution. The Bank of North America was succeeded in its role as central bank by the First Bank of the United States in 1791.

The First National Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

When shares in the bank were sold to the public, the Bank of North America became the country's first initial public offering.

The Bank of the United States was created by Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury, in 1791. Hamilton believed a central bank was necessary to stabilize and improve the nation's credit, and to improve handling of the financial business of the United States government under the newly enacted constitution. Modelled on the Bank of England, it had the power to issue notes and government bonds and thus to manage the national debt.

The Commercial Bank of Scotland was founded by John Pitcairn, Lord Cockburn and others on March 25, 1810 in response to public dissatisfaction with the three charter banks. In 1969, the bank merged with the Royal Bank of Scotland to become the largest clearing bank in Scotland.

Former headquarters on George Street, Edinburgh. By User:Jonathan Oldenbuck - Wikipedia Commons

The Bank of Savings in New York City, the first savings bank in the United States, took its maiden deposits on Saturday, July 3, 1819. It was housed in the Old Alms House, and the apartment the bank took cost them nothing, simply occasionally a share in the repair of the building.

The first bank to get a charter from the United States Congress was The National Bank of Philadelphia in 1863.

The Pennsylvania Trust Company, of Carlisle Pa. became the first American bank to offer a Christmas club account in 1909.

The first recorded use of a bank using a drive-up window teller was the Grand National Bank of St. Louis, Missouri in 1930. The drive-up teller allowed only deposits at that time.

The Bank of America was originally called the Bank of Italy until the founder, Amedeo Giannini, changed the name in 1930.

The United Kingdom's oldest investment banking institute, Barings Bank, collapsed in 1995 after a securities broker, Nick Leeson, lost $1.4 billion (£860 million) by speculating on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange using futures contracts. On December 1, 1995, Leeson pleaded guilty to fraud related to the losses that led to the collapse of the Bank.

The turn of the 21st century saw a big rise in telephone banking. In 2003 in the UK there were 33 million telephone bank accounts, 28 per cent of all personal accounts, compared with 18% five years previously.


Italy's Credem Bank takes Parmesan cheese as a security on loans. In 2009, an estimated $188 million-worth of cheese was stored there.

JP Morgan Chase now ranks as the largest company and bank in the world as of 2011.

The Banco de la NaciĆ³n branch in Macusani, Peru, is the highest altitude bank branch in the world, It is located at 14,393 ft (4,387 metres) above sea level.

Egg Banking PLC is now the world's largest "pure" internet bank.

To open the vaults at the Bank of England you need a key which is three feet long.

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