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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Travelers Cheques by Marcellus F. Berry in 1891.
James C. Fargo, president of the American Express Company, was well off and well known. Itís not surprising that he felt insulted when he couldn't get checks cashed during a trip to Europe in 1890. But the European bankers were steadfast. Fargo was not known to them. So they would not cash his checks. Was an American always going to have a cash problem when traveling in Europe? 1924 ad for Travelers Cheques
An employee of the American Express Company, Marcellus F. Berry, set out to find a solution. He wrote later: "Thereís one thing every person does in a distinctive way. That is writing his signature. Therefore the foolproof device for taking money to strange places must carry the signature of the bearer. It must declare that it will be cashed only when a second, and matching, signature is added before witnesses." On July 7, 1891, Berry was granted four copyrights for what he called "the travelers cheque," and William Fargo, James Fargoís son, got the first one. He had no difficulty when he wanted fifty dollars a few weeks later in Leipzig, Germany. In 1891, American Express sold $9,120.00 worth of travelers checks, and the amount has risen every year. During 2000, sales of American Express Travelers Cheques increased to $24.6 billion.


Why Didn't I Think of That?: Bizarre Origins of Ingenious Inventions We Couldn't Live Without
by Allyn Freeman, Bob Golden / Paperback - 260 pages / John Wiley & Sons; (September 1997)
Filled with wacky and fascinating facts, awe-inspiring success statistics, and rags-to-riches stories, Chronicles the odd origins behind 50 famous inventions and reveals the business side of each product's actual production, marketing, and distribution.

Stagecoach: Wells Fargo and the American West
by Philip L. Fradkin, J. S. HollidayHardcover: 250 pages / Simon & Schuster; (February 2002)
Stagecoach reminds us of the far more complex and colorful history of the 150-year-old enterprise it symbolizes, beginning with its heyday as an unpolished but honorable "express company" that dependably linked, by means of the stagecoach, an upstart West Coast and roughshod Rockies with everything else back East.
Why Didn't I Think of That ( This title is out of print. )
by Webb Garrison / Hardcover - 120 pages (1977) / Prentice Hall / ISBN: 0139586032

American Express Company Annual Report
During 2000, sales of American Express Travelers Cheques increased to $24.6 billion,
Company History
In 1850 Henry Wells and William George Fargo co-founded a new company called American Express with Mr Wells as President and Mr Fargo as Vice President. The Company’s business was freight and financing.
Travelers Cheques
The official American Express Web site. No history available.

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised February, 2005.

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