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Thursday, August 20, 2009

100 Years of American Express Travelers Cheques (1891 - 1991) December 26, 1991

Long before commercial aviation, when traveling involved long ocean voyages or travel by rail, passengers had no choice but to carry large amounts of money. This money in most cases would be carried in the form of cash on themselves and in their baggage, where it could easily be lost or stolen. Those wealthy enough or with influence could obtain letters of credit from a bank. But even letters of credit could only be obtained from one bank and reimbursed by another when the traveler had credit outstanding.
In 1891, the president of American Express Company, James C. Fargo, returned to the U.S from a journey to Europe where he had experienced difficulties with reimbursement of his letters of credit from foreign banks. Upon his return to America he summoned his manager, Matcellus Berry, and instructed him to create a negotiable instrument that would be as widely accepted internationally as cash yet safer. Marcellus Berry worked on this for months and finally came up with the solution. He had the idea of requiring two signatures to validate the check. This idea is so simple yet so effective that till today after 100 years it has not become obsolete.
Since the past 100 years the travelers cheque product has been a symbol of security, re-fundability and convenience.
The travelers cheque product has stood the test of time and continues to meet the needs of the travelers worldwide In addition, the fact that travelers cheques are as easily accepted as cash at banks, hotels, and at major shops and stores is another reason why millions of travelers prefer to travel with this form of payment.
As travelers needs grew more complex travelers cheque issuing companies introduced more and more innovative ways to save the travelers cheque purchasers trip. American Express, the inventor and world leader in travelers cheques, has a reputation for introducing innovative services. Today, purchasers of American Express travelers cheques have the convenience and security of reporting their loss or theft over the, phone and having their TCs delivered to their doorstep nearly anywhere in the world, usually within 24hours.
It is such value added services offered by American Express that has made the travelers cheque product one of the most secure methods of carrying money overseas. Today, travelers cheques are available in all major currencies such as US dollars, Canadian dollars, French and Swiss francs, German Marks, Pounds Sterling, Japanese Yen to mention a few.
The main feature of the stamp specimen bears the first travelers cheque that was encashed by William C.Fargo on 5th August. 1891 in Leipziz. Germany in the backdrop.
In 1951, the design of the American Express Travelers Cheques was changed. The addition of the roman warrior made counterfeiting more difficult and his portrait today on the American Express Travelers Cheques symbolism strength, security and reliability.
One man\'s frustration, another\'s vision and the commitment of dedicated people through out the last century created a product of unquestionable advantage - The American Express Travelers Cheques.
The commemorate the occasion Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs.7/- denomination on the 100 years of American Express Travelers Cheques" on December 26,1991.
(Contributed by American Express Bank Limited, Karachi).