While most of our focus seems to be on bank notes, I thought I'd dig into my collection and shed a little light on their poor stepsisters -- checks. Since checks didn't hold quite the same counterfeiting risks as bank notes, the use of intaglio vignettes wasn't required or even necessary in most cases. Major banks, however, often took no chances and the result was some checks which rival banknotes in the quality of their engravings. The first one I'll post includes a mystery. The First National Bank of Helena issued a bank check with a gorgeous vignette, clearly based on Yellowstone, complete with geyser and waterfall. Microlettering notes that the vignette was engraved in 1884, when Montana was still a territory. The check printer's imprint is August Gast Bank Note Co. of St. Louis and New York. I can find no information on this firm in "The Engraver's Line," so if anyone knows about it please let me know. The T.W. House check (I assume that's T.W. to the left) may have been produced to impress customers -- being from Texas, after all. I also like the imprinted revenue stamp in the center. This one was printed by American Bank Note. The two Illion Bank are probably my favorite checks, both printed circa 1850 by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson. They look very much like bank notes from the era, in fact you'll find many of the vignettes on other notes. These are remarkably easy to find on eBay for less than $15.