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Depositors' Department
 
Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank -
Depositors' Personal Ledgers
(continued)
 
 
Birmingham Corporation
Savings Bank
 
The accounts numbered 7 to 10 all have balances transferred from the old ledger on March 31st 1917. Account Number 10 is annotated 'N1' which probably indicates that this depositor was the first to make a Nomination. In this ledger, an account where the depositor has made a Nomination was stamped with a large message to draw the attention of staff to the fact.
The first period of trading that ended in the production of a formal set of audited accounts, was from September 29th 1916 to March 31st 1917. The auditors (Agar, Bates, Neal & Co) did not sign off the accounts until November 27th 1917, and included in their report a statement that "It has been evident to us that the work in the initial stages of the Bank overwhelmed the staff, and it has taken a great deal of clerical labour to set right some of the errors which occurred during this time of stress". The production of the accounts involved the City Treasurer's staff in 1,600 hours "in writing up the books .... [plus] .... the balances of 17,000 Depositors, contained in 17 ledgers, were extracted and analysed, involving the making of elaborate analyses so as to be able to to balance each ledger separately". The total balances in those 17 ledgers amounted to 61,753 - 8 - 11d.
 
Although the capitalisation of interest was done on the old Ledger Cards and the new balance then carried forward into the new Bound Ledger, it is not known whether the extraction and balancing of the accounts was done on the former or the latter, or both. In any case errors presumably arose and were later corrected as shown left, where 1/- has been added to an account balance in late 1917.The error was probably discovered on the presentation of the passbook - as also seems to have happened in the case below.
Each account column has two sets of figures, one each for principal and interest. After each interest capitalisation, the amount of interest that would be earned on the new principal (assuming there will be no transactions in the following six-month period) is entered. This amount of interest, which would probably have been calculated by the use of tables, has been calculated to one decimal place of a penny. In these two examples, therefore:
 (above): 6 - 10 - 9d has been credited with interest of 2s/1.2d
 (right):   3 - 3 - 9d has been credited with interest of 1s/0.6d
 
The 'starting' interest is then amended as transactions are made, so that a deposit of 2 in April earns 7d for the period to September 30th; and 2 - 5 - 0d deposited in June earns 4.2d.
 
At capitalisation, the interest value has been rounded to the nearest penny, so that 1s/0.6d (right) has been rounded up to 1s/1d; and 1s/2.7d (above) has been rounded up to 1s/3d (One shilling & threepence).
The basis of the Bank's operations was savings made by the purchase of coupons through the depositor's employer. Both of the accounts illustrated here have many deposits of 1 (or multiples thereof), which would have been the pattern of saving 1/- coupons until a Coupon Card(s) was filled to the value of 1, and then credited to the depositor's account.
 
Both accounts have had balances transferred from the previous Ledger Cards, although the date for the transfer is given as April 1st 1917, unlike Accounts numbered 1 to 10 above, that are dated March 31st 1917. Strictly speaking, April 1st (the beginning of the half-year) is correct. 'March 31st' was inserted for about the first 200 accounts in the ledger, and 'April 1st' for the remainder.
 
Only the depositors' name and address is recorded at the head of the account column. A separate Signature Card held the depositor's specimen, meaning that a request for a withdrawal would require the cashier to consult two records to verify the passbook balance and the depositor's identity. It would not have been advisable for the depositor to sign the ledger, as this would have provided a sight of the accounts of other depositors.
 
Interest was capitalised half-yearly on March 31st and September 30th. For September 30th 1917, a rubber stamp assisted with the clerical labour, not only providing the date but also a ruled line for totalling and 'Bal.' to indicate the new balance.
 
At March 31st 1918, a different design of stamp was used; this stamp had two 'ruled lines' but no 'Bal.'. However, it was still a requirement to mark the capitalised balance and 'Bal' was inserted by hand.
 
The next two capitalisations (September 1918 and March 1919) used rubber stamps without the 'Bal' designation.
 
It is not clear why it was thought necessary to mark the capitalised balance, as the current account balance was always the last total in the column. In the example below, 'Bal' is hand-written against  the non-capitalised balance of 23 - 19 - 4d following a repayment of 6 - so it may be that this was a way of marking where a ledger was balanced against its control total.
 
The capitalised balances always have a set of initials against them. These may the initials of a member of staff who has checked the arithmetic, or more probably, the initials of the auditor's staff.
The Municipal Savings Banks Regulations, 1916, specified that no depositor should have more than 200 in an account, and not have more than one account.
 
Walter Edge (Account Number 361) was affected by this restriction. His account balance exceeded 200 following the crediting of interest at March 31st 1918. He subsequently withdrew a sum to bring the account balance down to 200, and kept it at this level or below subsequently.
Many account balances did not accumulate sums that were in danger of exceeding the 200 limit - most accounts had balances of just a few Pounds. Some depositors stopped saving, but did not close the account, instead withdrawing much of their balance, leaving less than 1. With a balance of less than 1, the account did not earn any interest, and became inactive. In later years (particularly in the Birmingham Municipal Bank) this type of account became numerous and, after having been inactive for a specified period (usually three years) they were designated as 'Dormants Under 1' or 'Inactive' Accounts. It is not known if the BCSB termed the accounts as 'Inactives' but it established the principle of transferring the accounts to a separate ledger. With the later introduction of loose-leaf ledgers, such a transfer would include the physical transfer of a ledger sheet to a separate ledger. With the BCSB's bound ledgers, the system was to stamp such an account 'TRANSFERRED TO SUSPENSE LEDGER'.
In the case of a depositor losing his or her passbook, it would be necessary to issue a replacement. The relevant account was marked to ensure that future withdrawals on the account were only made against the duplicate passbook - in the example below the account record is marked 'D' and also has had a special rubber stamp applied.
Continued
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