On March 1, 1886 the U.S. Supreme Court decided on the case of Leather Manufacturers’ Bank v. Morgan, 117 U.S. 96. Essentially, this case stated, amongst other things, that the loss from a forged, or “raised”, check must be paid by the maker of the check and not the bank when in the absence of any suspicious conditions. When this decision was made it was simply the latest such outcome which reaffirmed previous decisions from lower courts.
Shortly after these court decisions the market for check protectors took-off. There were other protectors on the market, of course, but many were expensive. And while many were introduced in the late 1880’s and 1890’s few were as successful as the model designed by Sittmann & Pitt.
Gustav Sittmann and Walter H. Pitt (S. & P.) designed a small and ingenious check protector and promptly submitted an application for patent in September 1893. In February 1895 they were granted patent 534404. This check protector was manufactured and sold for approximately 30 years by a number of different companies.
In January 1895 the Nafew-Lovell Co introduced the “Nafew-Lovell Check Protector” to the stationer trade. By May 1895 this same item was being advertised in newspapers across the United States. This model was available in japanned black with gold pinstriping and some other minor gold enamel ornamentation. The front of the protector was marked “The Nafew Lovell Check Protector Havemeyer Building New York”. It’s initial price was $7.50 which is equal to over $212 in 2018 dollars.
Nafew-Lovell Company was organized in 1894 and incorporated April 1895 to deal in patents, copyrights, etc. This is the first company to produce what would later come to be known as “The S. & P.”. By July 1895 the company changed names to the Samuel Nafew Company and at the same time increased the price to $8.50.
There was one other known S&P type check protector that was sold for a short time in 1895. In August 1895 the Samuel Nafew Company sent out a circular to the trade stating that they own the patent, are producing this check protector, and that others are not genuine and infringements will be followed-up for prosecution. By the end of the year you saw no more mention of this knock-off machine.
In early 1896 Samuel Nafew Company reduced the price to $8.00. In mid-1897 they reduced it again to just $5.00. This was a time when many other companies were reducing the prices on their check protectors (see Chicago Check Perforator) forcing the Samuel Nafew Company to do the same in order to stay competitive.
Note also that by February 1896 the front of the check protector is labeled “The Nafew Check Protector”.
1899 turned out to be a terrible year for the Samuel Nafew Company.
- In April 1899 there was a bankruptcy judgment against the Samuel Nafew Company in the state of New York.
- There was a fire at 390-392 Broadway in Chicago on October 26, 1899 where they had offices and a warehouse and they sustained several thousands of dollars in loss of stock and other items.
- The sales over the holidays that they were depending on never materialized.
- In December 1899 Sittmann & Pitt informed Samuel Nafew that if they did not make a reasonable payment on the debt owed to them they would file against them for involuntary bankruptcy. Sittmann & Pitt did just that in January 1900 and by July 1900 they started producing the S.& P. Check Protector under their name.
Sittmann & Pitt manufactured and marketed the S.& P. Check Protector until December 1908. In January 1909 the “patents and business of the S&P Check Protector” were taken over by the Cushman & Denison Manufacturing Company. One of the changes that Cushman & Denison made was to now make the S.&P. available in a nickel-plated model. When they took over manufacture they never changed the label on the front and it always read “The S.& P.”.
While the price you see in the industry magazines is the suggested retail price, in stationery stores the prices varied. The following ad from a 1911 newspaper from Arkansas shows a price of $4.50.
By 1921 Cushman & Denison were offering the S. & P. for $10.00.
The S.& P. Check Protector was available at least until 1924, but likely for a number of years after. Aside from some cosmetic changes such as with the gold pin striping or the name painted on the front there was very little change over the 30 plus years it was sold.
The S. & P. Check Protector was everything it was advertised to be. It was a small and very well-built check protector and even if you find one that has been abused over the years it is likely to still work. It was made of 100% cast iron and steel, weighs 4 pounds, and measures 4.5″ W x 5.844″ L x 5.5″ H. The S. & P. is a perforator type machine. A perforator punches a series of pin-sized holes that were in the shape of numbers and symbols.
Patent and Other Information:
- editors (1895, January), A New Check Protector, American Stationer, page 118
- editors (1895, January 8), New Corporations in Which Brooklyn-ites Have Invested Capital, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, page 2
- Schwaab Stamp & Seal Co (1895, January), advertisement, The American Lawyer, page 2
- editors (1895, April), The Nafew-Lovell Check Protector, Scientific American, page 262
- Dury & Finney (1895, May 30), advertisement, The Nashville American, page 3
- Samuel Nafew Co (1895, July), advertisement, American Stationer, page 163
- editors (1895, August), Trade Items, American Stationer, page 326
- Samuel Nafew Co (1896, February), advertisement, American Stationer, page 339
- Samuel Nafew Co (1897, July), advertisement, American Stationer, page 116
- editors (1899, April 12), Judgments, New York Times, page 11
- editors (1900, January 7), Petitions In Bankruptcy, New York Times, page 9
- Sittmann & Pitt (1901, January), advertisement, American Stationer, page 17
- editors (1909, May), Office Appliances, American Exporter, page 94
- Cushman & Denison Mfg Co (1909, June), advertisement, American Exporter, page 152
- Democrat Printing & Litho Co (1911, June 29), advertisement, The Arkansas Gazette, page 2
- Cushman & Denison Mfg Co (1921, January), advertisement, American Stationer and Office Outfitter, page 33
- Cushman & Denison Mfg Co (1924, March), advertisement, Office Appliances The Magazine of Office Equipment, page 75
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