Claim: Someone once wrote a check on the side of a cow, and the bovine check was accepted and cashed by the bank.
Origins: The story of the check written on the side of a cow is so widespread that major banks reportedly make reference to it in pamphlets given out to new depositors (as an example of some of the unusual things people have used as checks).
Nonetheless, it's a completely fabricated tale, and it springs straight from the adventures of one Albert Haddock, the fictitious and fanciful creation of British writer
Okay, now you know a bit about the author. As for his wondrous creation, Albert Haddock, here's a bit from the introduction to
Albert Haddock made his first public appearance in Punch about 1924. I have always understood that I invented him, but he has made some disturbing escapes into real life. The first of the first series of Misleading Cases shown by the BBC on television in 1967 was
The article made not the slightest reference to me, my work, or the BBC, but used as news all Haddock's arguments and opinions on unconventional cheques. Halfway through, it suddenly claimed the authority of the Chase Manhattan Bank for the particular case of the cow: 'In the
wasn't a real person any more than Sherlock Holmes was.
One wonders how many cattle have been led into the Chase Manhattan Bank over the years thanks to the
(NOTE: A number of Internet sources cite the 1985 edition of Michael Liepner's Applying the Law as documentation of the claim that "In Canada during the 1930s, a farmer painted a cheque on the side of a cow and cashed it." This citation is erroneous: the referenced book contains no such statement.)
Barbara "please use the cattle-drive-up window" Mikkelson
Last updated: 29 June 2012
Herbert, A.P. Uncommon Law. New York: International Polygonics, 1935. ISBN 1-55882-107-4. Wansell, Geoffrey. "Cash on the Hoof for A.P. Herbert." The [London] Times. 27 August 1990.