We just went through the season for patriotism. Memorial Day is the season’s unofficial start. Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, all reminders of the work, symbols and sacrifice that made our country great.
The other day, while wandering aimlessly on the internet, I found an interesting piece in an unexpected place – the web site for the Comptroller of the Currency.
In a sense, it was a story within a story about the success of a community bank and of its namesake.
The bank? The Franklin Loan and Building Association of Salem, N.J., now known simply as Franklin Bank.
Its namesake? Benjamin Franklin. While not as known historically in the history of American banking as Alexander Hamilton, Franklin would surely be a candidate for banking’s Mount Rushmore, if such a landmark existed.
First, a bit about the bank. Interestingly before the bank opened its first brick-and-mortar office in 1946, the bank, which opened in April 1861, transactions took place, “on a part-time basis in the homes and places of business of the officers.”
From that early beginning, the bank – which serves rural southern New Jersey – now has assets of $255 million. In 1988, it changed its name from the Franklin Savings and Loan Association to Franklin Savings Bank. Today, the institution is known simply as Franklin Bank.
Ironically, the year the bank opened, counterfeiting of American currency was widespread.
Enter the namesake from an earlier time. Every child of a certain age knows Ben Franklin’s wisdom: “A penny saved is a penny earned”. He urged his fellow citizens of the new Republic to live lives of frugality.
But what you may not know is that Franklin was an innovator in the war on fake currency. Even in the days before independence, Franklin designed and printed colonial currency, placing a highly detailed picture of a sage leaf on currency in 1737 to protect against forgeries. He was an early advocate of a national currency and was seen as “the preeminent authority on paper money in America.”
But there’s more. Every American kid grows up hearing about Franklin’s experiments with electricity. Remember the kite and the key? Those experiments led to the light bulb, the telegraph, the telephone, radio and computers, all indispensable to banking in the modern era.
There’s no doubt. Among the Founding Fathers, Franklin is the unsung hero of American community banking.
And as for the institution once known as the Franklin Loan and Building Association, it has no doubt made its namesake proud. After all, with $255 million in assets, that’s a bunch of pennies saved and earned.
Thank goodness for Mr. Franklin of Philadelphia. In light of all he did for banks, somehow his face on a C-Note doesn’t seem adequate.
God bless America.
Read the entire article HERE
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