People have always loved the idea of something for nothing, so what could be better than a few giveaways to entice your custom?  Martins Bank loves to give away anything that is likely to engender customer loyalty and instil the savings habit in its customers.  The first major giveaway is the classic oval shaped Home Safe moneybox, into which your hard saved pennies can be inserted by you, but which can only removed by the bank cashier, who then wants to do something really boring with them, like put them into your savings account.  It doesn’t do however, to mock thrift, and many a twenty-first century financial crisis might easily have been avoided, had we all watched the pennies with more care… These oval money boxes are by no means rare, and it is very easy to pick them up cheaply on internet auctions sites. 


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Tens of Thousands were issued by hundreds of banks and building societies throughout the United Kingdom between 1921 and the early 1940s, and those bearing the names of Martins Bank, and the Bank of Liverpool and Martins should not be difficult to find, and you should not expect to pay more than a few pounds for one of these charming souvenirs of banking days gone by…

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No smoking?


Despite scientists making us aware of the dangers of smoking in the late 1950s, it is still the majority social accoutrement of the sixties - shown in films and on TV, seen as romantic, even sexy – goodness, how times have changed for the better!  Martins Bank’s published staff records are littered with examples of those who have retired early due to ill health, and who, for a leaving gift, invariably receive ashtrays, lighters and other smoking paraphernalia to help them pass on even more quickly to an early grave…


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Strike a light guv’nor! – This is just what those sophisticated sixties smokers need: their very own Martins Bank personalised matchbook, which must surely be the perfect accompaniment to the pipe and slippers owned by every twenty-four year old man of any substance.  Matchbooks are issued by a huge number of big name companies as souvenir giveaways in the 1960s, including ABC Weekend Television and the TV Times. 

1967 Notebook giveawaysI’ll just make a note of that…

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In the days before laptops and mobile phones and any number of new devices for recording your every thought word and deed in the hope that someone might find it remotely interesting, we have NOTEPADS. – No, not the laptop computer variant of the same name, these notepads are several pieces of paper stuck together in a handy small book-like format – (Books being what we used to read before they moved to tablet computers). Just the thing when you want to write a shopping list (that’s a list of things to buy in shops, which is where we used to buy things before the internet came along).  Martins is once again on the case with these cheerful little notepads to give away to customers!

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Flower Power!

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Martins giveaways for adults are a liitle boring to say the least, but thanks to the “summer of love”, and perhaps encouraged by having the legendary Jimi Hendrix as a customer of the Bank (see LONDON EDGWARE ROAD BRANCH) Martins Bank really lets it hair down in order to provide this dazzling flower power cheque book cover in 1967. If you look very carefully, you can just make out the name of the bank amongst the riot of colour…

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1967 Flowered Cheque Book Cover

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Otherwise, things are pretty mundane. You can keep your statements in a GREY wallet, and your cheques in a GREY or GREEN plastic cheque book cover.  Cheque book covers are one of the oldest giveaways, and the Archive has examples of early versions in leather.  When the bankers card is introduced in the late 1960s it is made of cardboard and almost four times the size of today’s plastic cards.  Martins offers a special black plastic wallet in which to keep your card folded in half:

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One of the older Grasshopper logos

in gold on black leather


More up to date, and made of plastic, but it hasn’t

worn as well as its counterpart on the left!

Cheque Guarantee

Finally something that is almost redundant today,

the Cheque Guarantee Card…

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Merger giveaways…

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MatchbookSelling a merger, especially one that so divided opinion, was never going to be easy.  Whilst the case is  made in advertising to customers, and issuing calming circulars to staff, the only giveaways that we can attribute directly to the passing of Martins are issued by what was Martins Bank Trust Company, which becomes Barclaytrust/Barclays Bank Trust Company.  It is fair to say that prior to the merger, Barclays has nothing like the strong experienced trustee and tax offices that Martins can boast, so acquiring the lot, along with one of the western world’s most prolific unit trusts allows Barclays to celebrtate its good fortune and splash a little cash on some giveaways - Matchbooks featuring the Grasshopper and the Spread Eagle, and similarly designed packs of playing cards in a velvetine box. It remains to be seen whether or not giveaways play any real part in banking – something for nothing is attractive, but only until the next offer comes along.  The items specially designed for children arguably have more of a purpose, acting as visual prompts to instill thrift and careful handling of money, both of which are useful in later life.  However, the frenzy of student giveaways in the 1990s proves to be an expensive exercise for many of the banks, with some students receiving the equivalent of several hundred pounds worth of goods, discounts and interest free borrowing. Instead of benefitting from the businessmen and women of tomorrow, the doctors surgeons and politicians, many banks fall foul of non-repaid overdrafts, and little or no loyalty from those upon whom they have lavished so much. In today’s more austere climate, students are lucky if they can find an overdraft at all…  If you would like to see the array of goodies provided by Martins Bank to children over the years, please visit our CHILDREN’S SAVINGS feature.