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The sakk’s in the mail

More check geekiness for you today.

The ancient Romans invented the concept of the check. They used praescriptiones to pay instead of gold. But we don’t really know what these “checks” looked like.

The sakk’s in the mail

Image retrieved from

So, when was the first known paper check used?

Best guess is about 1100 years ago.       

About 400 years before the printing press was invented!

About 900 years before America was invented!

Muslim traders used the “sakk system” in the 9th century during the reign of Harun al-Rashid.

In the painting you can see al-Rashid receiving a delegation from Charlemagne.

In this system, a trader in one country could cash a sakk drawn from his own bank in a different country.

Sound familiar?

And the reason they used these paper devices? Same as today, really. They didn’t want to carry sacks of gold around with them.

Kinda dangerous back in the wild, wild East.

Checks were faster and more secure.

And they can still be the cheapest, most secure way for your company to pay its bills today.


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