This imposing Portuguese cheque originally to be issued by the Banco Nacional Ultramarino bears an overprint of a section of that bank established in 1929 in London. The Anglo-Portuguese Colonial and Overseas Bank Limited is shown twice in red on this fiscal paper made out for U.S. $491.86. Such an overprint is fairly frequently necessitated when a new entity takes over some position and no papers with the changed name have been printed yet. This London bank was set up no doubt because world trade was on the increase (yet the Great Depression was beginning to be felt as well).
The Banco Nacional Ultramarino was established in Lisbon in 1864 as Portugal’s way of handling the fiscal and monetary needs of its far-flung colonies. It expanded quite rapidly; the next year branches were set up in Luanda, Angola and Cabo Verde. Three years later more branches were established in Sao Tome e Principe, Goa and Lourenco Marques.
Early in the 20th century there was considerably more expansion, with branches beginning operations in Macau, Bolama, Dili and Brazil. The BNU ceased its existence as an independent legal entity when it merged with the Caixa Geral de Depositos, the government-owned savings bank.
After the political upheavals of the period around 1974 in Portugal, the bank was nationalized and much of its dominance and power was dissipated. It still continues to issue a full set of bank notes under its original BNU name in Macau, a former Portuguese colony, now a Chinese Special Administrative Region. Denominations include 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 patacas.
The cheque itself gives one a feeling of strength as an imposing piece of fiscal paper. At left is the year the head office was established; underneath is a listing of the various branches throughout the world. A passenger liner is shown as the emblem of the BNU with its motto, Colonias-Commercio-Agricultura. The size is 230 x 119mm. The blank back has a number of different endorsements and several hand signatures. The imprint is located near the lower left corner, placed vertically just to the right of the branch office listing. A London printer by the name of Whitehead Morris Limited made this piece.