PIP #1 – Banks & Bills

PIP #1 – “Banks & bills”

By Louise Peloquin

For months, the media has been covering news about inflation, utility costs, tax hikes, bank failures and credit ratings. Here is a “peek into the past” (PIP) at bygone bills and banks.


On August 22nd, “A Star on Prince Street” introduced (or re-introduced) blog readers to Louis A. Biron and his French daily “L’Etoile.” Like entrepreneurs throughout the ages, Biron had to build up a clientele, meet clients’ needs, deal with banks, pay bills and everything else involved in keeping an enterprise solvent.

Our increasingly digital age will make the items below redundant. But, for now, they’re still around.

L’Etoile order slip

This order slip was not only the shop’s ID (“Established in 1886”; “French Newspaper”) but also an ad (“Fine Artistic Job” and “French and English)”.

The upper-right-hand corner “194__” was updated in the ‘50’s.

The five-digit phone number takes us way back.



The “Oldest Bank in Lowell” image on the Old Lowell National Bank checks catches the eye. Did those imposing Corinthian columns make a rock solid statement about “the oldest” bank in town?


checks payable to Lowell Electric Light and to Lowell Furniture.

Check # 5 takes us to a pre-LED light age. In November 1920, The Lowell Electric Light Corp. charged  $2.20 for its services. What would that bill be over a century later?

The Lowell Furniture Company cashed in a whopping $12.98 for unspecified goods, an ancestor to the ergonomic office chair perhaps?


Checks payable to Middlesex County Electric and to City of Lowell.

In the 40’s, Biron held an account at the Union National Bank of Lowell.

In February 1944, Middlesex County Electric Co. received checks 1495 and 1496 for $1.87. Could the Prince Street print shop, run with characteristic French-Canadian thriftiness, have been a maverick in energy conservationism?

On February 26, 1944, check 1487 was made out to the City of Lowell for $43.69. Dutifully-paid taxes? In any case, Biron loved his American home town.


These snippets of Louis-A. Biron’s bookkeeping on Prince Street resonate in 2023. Although a great deal has changed, banks and bills have basically remained the same, at least until the CBDC’s (Central Bank Digital Currency) come round.