Blantyre man Gordon Cook, sent me the attached photos of Blantyre Co-operative Society checks.
Gordon added, “I think various Co-ops introduced their own tokens at different times for their own particular purposes, for instance, you might find some Societies produced bread tokens while others distributed tokens for milk or coal. Originally these checks were integral to the payment of the dividend, the checks being your evidence or receipts of purchases made if you like, but latterly in the 50s and 60s, they were used as cash, having the same monetary value as the coins in circulation at the time, this came I would suggest when the carbon copy slips were first issued, giving a copy to the customer while retaining a copy for the Co-op Office in Herbertson Street. After this one might pay with a mixture of cash and checks, and likewise change could be given in the same manner, i.e. 3d cash and a 1d check.
You might notice from the photographs that these checks were issued and then re-issued at a later date to replace those that became too worn, got lost, or were stolen (which happened often).
The first time these checks appeared in Blantyre was Thursday 14th January 1897, and they were made of celluloid. They were introduced for the benefit of the butcher, who was seemingly being hindered by having to write a check slip for every customer. The butcher’s van (horse and cart) was commissioned in Blantyre around July 1892, so he had been writing out lines for 5 years before he got the new celluloid checks.
The Independent Co-op in Blantyre also issued their own checks, same as the original Co-op’s but for the name Independent added.
The other tokens are fairly self explanatory, if a child was sent with a token for a pint of milk, he certainly wouldn’t be tempted to spend it in the sweet shop, and of course the mother couldn’t put it in the gas meter, so milk was assured at the end of the week, it was about 1930 before Blantyre caught up with other Societies and began selling milk in bottles. I wonder why they never issued tokens for fish? Coal was historically brought from Cambuslang to Blantyre in the early 1800s, but the Co-op in Blantyre didn’t enter into this side of business until the winter of 1909.
So having first served a young lad named Alexander McCluskey in late August 1883, after almost 90 years of trading and about 75 years of handling checks, it all came to an end on Tuesday 25th July 1972, when the Society was officially wound up.”