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History of Credit and Debt

The History of Credit & Debt – National Thrift Week

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    The History of Credit & Debt – Duty of Economy


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      The History of Credit & Debt – Benjamin Franklin

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      While sailing to England in 1757, Benjamin Franklin the famous America statesman and author wrote “The Way to Wealth” which provided advice on a variety of subjects. The text was only sixteen pages but the advice contained therein was invaluable. Franklin has very strong opinions about debt and he was not shy about expressing them. Many readers of this page ... Read More »

        The History of Credit & Debt – How to Budget, How to Buy, How to Pay

        How to Budget, How to Buy, How to Pay – Circa 1926. This text was produced by a leading retailer. Several retailers maintained “budget” departments to help show consumers how to manage their money so they could afford to make purchases. Back to Table of Contents Read More »

          The History of Credit & Debt – Betty & Dave


          Money troubles are not a modern problem. Almost forty years ago in Bluffton, Indiana, Betty and Dave Jacobs allowed their money struggles to become the focus of an article in a national magazine. Today millions of families still suffer from the exact same money issues and troubles. They suffer needlessly. It is obvious from reading this article, people today make ... Read More »

            The History of Credit & Debt – Bankruptcy


            Bankruptcy has been around for over four hundred years. However, what we assume to be bankruptcy, the elimination of debts, is not what bankruptcy started out as or was intended to become. The word bankruptcy comes from bancus, the tradesman’s counter, and ruptus, broken, denoting one whose place of business was broken or gone. Under pre-English bankruptcy laws, Rome, under ... Read More »

              The History of Credit & Debt – The Finance Company


              Today, when we think about the neighborhood finance company, it usually carries a negative connotation. Storefront lending is now the place you go when the bank won’t touch you, or so many believe. Personal finance companies played an important part in accelerating the consumption of credit in America. Ironically, that was not their intention. In the 1920s, if you wanted ... Read More »

                The History of Credit & Debt – History of Credit Cards


                The history of the credit card is anticlimactic after everything you have read about the history of credit and debt so far. The credit token was developed in the late 1800’s because stores wanted a faster way to complete transactions rather than have to lookup individual information or record the name and address of the buyer every time. To complete ... Read More »

                  The History of Credit & Debt – Saving Money


                  We often picture our Victorian ancestors practicing thrift, frugality and good money management. While those beliefs may be romantic, they are not accurate. America almost always has been a culture of consumption. As shown earlier, even the Pilgrims arrived in America with debt. Thrift was once openly discussed as being a sought-after virtue and held out as an acceptable social ... Read More »

                    The History of Credit & Debt – General Credit Terms in Early Consumer America


                    By the 1920s, credit had exploded upon American society. It was too late to put the genie back in the bottle since the rise in consumer debt was merely an extension of a long-standing American willingness to get ahead by borrowing. By this time, generations of Americans had been weaned on easy credit and would accept nothing less. America was ... Read More »

                      The History of Credit & Debt – Early Installment Sales


                      Some of the earliest forms of consumer credit were installment loans. These loans were commonplace in the United States since around 1850 with sewing machine financing and really began to catch on. Women were the most enthusiastic about the advent of sewing machines on easy credit. Before the sewing machine it took on average fourteen hours to make a shirt ... Read More »

                        The History of Credit & Debt – Early Sources of Credit


                        Before organized consumer credit, there were five major lending sources: pawnbrokers, illegal small-loan lenders, retailers, friends and family, and mortgage lenders. Indebtedness was common prior to the 1800s. Unfortunately, it was hidden from view in the grocer’s book and the pawnshop ledger, in the butcher’s tab and the memory of friends. Early levels of national consumer debt were measured in ... Read More »

                          The History of Credit & Debt – When Did Credit As We Know It Arrive In The U.S.?

                          Early store credit ledger

                          As we’ve learned, installment credit began in the United States with the Pilgrims. The use of installment credit or loans to sell merchandise is not new at all. While credit sales have existed from the days of the Pilgrims, they were not as structured as installment sales. Debtors would pay back the local grocer as they could, or farmers might ... Read More »

                            The History of Credit & Debt – Debtors’ Prison

                            From Massachusetts, a 1729 Judgment to make payment or be thrown in jail.

                            At last our journey through financial history has reached a point where we recognize dollars and credit. From Massachusetts, a 1729 Judgment to make payment or be thrown in jail. During the early years of the United States, up to the mid 1800s, you could get tossed in prison for failing to pay back your debts. Not only were you ... Read More »

                              The History of Credit & Debt – How Did We Get The $ Symbol?


                              The symbol we use today for the dollar, $, originally had two vertical strokes. In the 1877 book “Gold and Debt” by William Lyman Fawcett, the history of the dollar symbol is told. The $ symbol was derived from the pillars of Hercules, one of the oldest symbols known to the human race. Their composition is due entirely to the ... Read More »

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