THE SAVINGS BANK.
The sayings bank is the poor man's friend.
"If we would seek the nucleus of the sav ings bank," writes W. H. Keiffers, Jr. in the Bankers' Magazine, "especially the mutual or trustee type, it will doubtless be found in the `sick and aid' or other friendly societies which have existed for centuries in many parts of Europe. Groups of workmen, in order to pro vide for the time of need, to insure decent burial, or properly to celebrate Christmas, or other festivals, were wont to form themselves into groups or associations. A small amount in dues was required, and these accumulations, together with the profit arising from social features, balls, etc., provided funds from which a small sick or funeral benefit was paid." Any institution that offers men the oppor tunity of providing for the future from daily wages set aside, as deposits, is in reality a savings bank. This form of mutual bene ficial institution is not an old one. Only re cently the centenary of what is supposed to have been the first savings bank was cele brated in the little town of Ruthwell, in the south of Scotland.
Few if any banks for this purpose existed in Europe before the nineteenth century. It has been recorded that Henry Duncan, a Pres byterian clergyman of Dumfriesshire, organ ized that first bank, and by his writings did much to spread the idea. The beginning was so small that at the end of three years the deposits were only two hundred and forty two pounds—an eloquent reminder of the comparative youth of many of the most be neficent institutions of the age in which we are living.
The savings bank in America dates from 1816, when one was established in Boston and one in Philadelphia. They are both still in existence.
The Boston institution was the pioneer of the splendid mutual savings bank system of New England, where the affairs of each bank are managed by a board of unpaid trustees, and the policy of local investments is adhered to whenever practical. Such a system has un questioned advantages over the joint stock savings banks.
There are now more than fifteen hundred savings banks in the United States, over ten million depositors and deposits exceeding four hundred billion dollars.
In foreign lands the depositors number ninety-two millions, and the deposits are nine and one-third billion dollars.
It is hard to overestimate the importance of the lessons of economy and thrift taught the masses of the people by the institution which is still less than a century old.
To-day the savings banks are one of the best known institutions in the United States. Nearly eleven million depositors are using them. In many states the most stringent laws have been enacted to insure the safety of money to savings bank depositors. These laws specify exactly how the depositor's money shall be invested by the bank in order that it may be made to earn the expenses of carrying on business as a public benefit and also to earn the interest paid to the depositor.
As a rule the interest rate is three, three and a half, or four per cent. Money may be de posited at any time and—with certain re strictions—it may be withdrawn at any time.
On opening an account with a savings bank the depositor is required to sign the bank's rules and regulations, giving sufficient infor mation about himself and his family to make identification easy and accurate.
The following extracts from the by-laws of a savings bank in New York, present con ditions more or less common to all well-or ganized institutions.
I. Deposits of one dollar to three thou sand dollars may be received from any single depositor.
2. On making the first deposit, the deposi tors shall be required, to subscribe to, and thereby signify their assent to, the Regula tions and By-laws of the bank.
3. Persons not residing in the city may open accounts in writing, carefully attested.
4. On making the first deposit, every de positor shall receive a pass-book, which shall contain an extract of the By-laws and Reg ulations of the bank, and without the produc tion of which [pass-book] subsequent deposits shall not be received.