Internal control, 1860s edition – sealed containers


(All photos by James Ulvog are from the Wells Fargo museum in Old Town park in San Diego.)

It’s not a new idea to seal containers so tampering with the contents is obvious. In the Wells Fargo Museum in San Diego, you can see how that idea was used in the 1860s.

Today, that technique is used when a deposit has been prepared and is ready to go to the bank. You put the completed deposit, along with any paperwork, and the deposit slip in a plastic bag, pull off a tab, seal it, and you’re ready to go.

The bag is a heavy gauge plastic and the sticky tape makes it something that cannot be resealed. Any tearing or cutting would be extremely obvious. If the bank or armored courier notices any damage in the plastic, they immediately know it has been tampered with and will reject the entire deposit.

Thus, there is immediate detection of any tampering.

This technique is something I recommend to all of my church clients. Such a tamper-evident non-resealable bag should be used as soon as the count team has prepared the deposit.

Here’s a current example of what this technique would use:

 tamper evident bag2

temper evident bag

Here’s an example of what this technique looked like 150 years ago:


On the wall there is a reproduction of the instruction manual that describes how to seal the bags:


The photo is probably too small, so here’s three paragraphs I enjoyed:

91. Bags containing Coin or Gold Dust must be securely fastened by passing the twine around the neck, close to the contents, not less than twice; then stitched through with a needle, tied tightly and sealed above and close to the knot, as shown in the diagram, and ends of the twine cut off close to the seal.

96. Every envelope containing currency must be sealed, as shown in the diagram, and a double thread stitched through the envelope and contents, tied, and sealed over the knot.

97. Large packages of money otherwise put up must be so securely sealed that they cannot be tampered with without detection.

Did you catch that comment? “Cannot be tampered with without detection.” That’s the whole idea – if anyone messes with the bag between the time it was sealed and the time it arrives at its destination, the tampering would be quite obvious and an investigation can begin immediately.

It won’t stop someone from getting into the bag, but doing so would be immediately detected. Thus, we call that a detective control.

Here’s a couple more pictures. Check out the empty bag, needle, twine, wax, and seal:


Close up of the seal:


Part 2 on safes here.

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