MichaelQuigley at TheWay.Org MichaelQuigley at TheWay.Org
Mon May 9 17:39:53 CEST 2011

> ----- Message from "Robert J. Hansen" <rjh at sixdemonbag.org> on Sat, 
> 07 May 2011 22:21:41 -0400 -----
> To:
> gnupg-users at gnupg.org
> Subject:
> Re: Best practice for periodic key change?
> On 05/07/2011 09:50 PM, David Shaw wrote:
> > Incidentally, speaking of bitmap signatures - a "signature" made via 
> > a rubber stamp of a signature can be binding under certain 
> > circumstances as well (at least in the US - I don't know about 
> > elsewhere).
> Within the U.S., the standard doesn't involve signatures /qua/
> signatures.  It involves making a mark on a document to express your
> will.  A contract signed with a simple mark of "X" is still legally 
> There's some hoary old story that was, once upon a time, taught in law
> schools: but Dad went through law school fifty years ago, so maybe it's
> fallen out of fashion.  It involved a lawsuit brought against a bank by
> two farmers (in Vermont, I think).  The first farmer owed the second a
> quantity of money, so the farmer picked up a grease pen and wrote on a
> pumpkin, "Pay this man $10 from my checking account."  The second
> farmer took it to the bank.  The bank refused to honor the check.  The
> two Vermont farmers were too stubborn to budge: it was a valid legal
> document and no rich banker was going to tell them otherwise.  The bank
> refused to budge: if a *pumpkin* can become a valid check-writing
> instrument, what will that do to their bookkeeping process?
> The trial court ruled in favor of the farmers.
> (Warning: secondhand information passed on from a source recalling a
> story he heard fifty years ago.  I'm led to believe the legal principles
> involved are still accurate in today's legal climate, but time and
> memory may have made this story a bit apocryphal.)

That's interesting.  I heard a very similar story where the "check" was 
written on a piece of tree bark.

I believe the "Check 21" legislation (intended to bring check-banking into 
the 21st century) has changed all that.  The pumpkin might still be a 
legally binding contract, but I think today banks only deal with 
electronic images of checks.  There's a whole bunch of regulations related 
to what constitutes a check.

I know that we can accept checks from other countries where the 
regulations are different.  But the processing fees for special handling 
are quite high.

(I also need to present a disclaimer--I am not a lawyer.  I just work with 
our Accounts Payable folks to produce checks that make it through the U.S. 
banking system.)
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