BANK, Banks, Bankers. The term bank and its derivatives does not occur in classi cal Latin. It first appears in low Latin about the beginning of the 13th century; when it seems to have been brought into Italy by the Norsemen and where it displaced the Roman mensa, as applied to the bench, table, counter, or counting-table, or board upon which the dealer in money sorted and counted his coins. The Greelc words for a banker or dealer in moneys were trapezeta and collybista, both of which were adopted by Roman writers. The Romans, in successive ages, had various terms for what would now be called a banlcer or banlcers; and it is under these heads that in formation must now be sought concerning their rise and developtnent. These Roman terms were men:twins, a sorter and counter of coins; nummsdariuz, a money changer; famator, a lender of money on interest; negotiator, a lender of money in the provinces, where the usury laws did not prevail. Camsor nunonul arius also appears in some works.
The counting-table is still employed, chiefly in national mints. It consists of a wooden board with a hundred or a thousand circular holes, cavities or depressions, suitable to the size of the coins to be counted. A large heap of such coins is thrown upon the board, one end of the board is then raised so as to form an incline, when the holes are at once filled; the surplus coins roll off ; and thus the counting of a thousand coins is done in a moment.
It is perhaps owing to the absence of the term tbankn or banker in classical works that banks are conunonly supposed to be of mediaval or modern origin. This is so far from the truth that the necessity for their adoption has re sulted in their establishment in all ages and countries where the government was sufficiently powerful to protect their funds from pillage and sufficiently just to permit and protect the exercise of their necessary and lawful func tions. The earliest governments of this char acter were pontifical, the sovereign being both king and high priest; for example, the Brah minical sovereigns of India. In the ((Gentoo,* or. Brahminical code, a translation of which, Governor Warren Hastings presented to the East India Company, there occur allusions to Bundhoos, or bankers, and to lenders of money other than pawnbrokers, coupled with the names of several sorts of money— gold, silver, copper and cowrie shells. The governor al ludes to this code as of (the remotest antiq uity,D which is evidently true as to some parts of it, while other parts are as evtdently mediaval. One of its provisions, a peculiar
one, occurs also in the Athenian and Byzantine codes, though which of them was borrowed from the other is difficult to decide. Says the Gentoo Code, iii, 3, (If a man hath borrowed money front another upon agreement for a low rate of interest and afterward, though at his own option consents to an increased rate of interest, the former agreement shall be ob served,0 or held good, by the magistrate. The corresponding Greek rule will be found in our article On BYZANTIUM, BANK OF.
Until the capture of Constantinople by the Latin forces in 1204, the prerogative of coin ing gold, a heritage from the ordinances of Augustus, was enjoyed exclusively by the Bastleus and respected by the various princes of Christendom. As a matter of fact there were no gold coins struck in Christian Europe be tween Charlemagne and the fall of the ((Greek') empire; the only coins of that metal (barring a few modern counterfeits) being the bezants (and their parts) of Constantinople and the dinars, etc., of Saracenic mintage. As the principal transactions of commerce were valued in gold coins, there eacisted no encouragement to establish a bank until the gold prerogative of the Basileus was destroyed and local coin age of gold was permissible. Hence such coinages, together vnth the establishment of banks of exchange and deposit, and transfer, as well as the open use of bills of exchange, warrants, checics, transferable bank receipts, etc., may all with confidence be dated from 1204, or such other local date as coincided with it, bearing in mind that the /Era Hispanica used in some of the Christian kingdoms of Spain, began 38 a.c., and the /Era Augusta, used in other states, both in Spain and elsewhere, be gan 15 tic. The earliest gold coins of Christian Europe after the fall of Constantinople were strucic in 10 different principalities between that date and 1257, when Venice struck its first sequin. Among the earliest banks were those of Venice, 1252 (from 1157 to 1252 it was a chamber of loans, not yet a bank) ; Delft, 1313; Calais, 1329; Geneva, 1346; Florence, 1350; and Barcelona, 1401. For the industrial history of the world's great banks see articles in this Encyclopedia as follows: Ancient banks: