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The ancient Romans are believed to have used an early form of cheque known as praescriptiones in the 1st century BCE.
In the 13th century in Venice the bill of exchange was developed as a legal device to allow international trade without the need to carry large amounts of gold and silver.
Once written, the cheque was brought back to the bank for settlement.
The suppression of banknotes in eighteenth-century England further promoted the use of cheques.
Although forms of cheques have been in use since ancient times and at least since the 9th century, it was during the 20th century that cheques became a highly popular non-cash method for making payments and the usage of cheques peaked.
In 1717, the Bank of England pioneered the first use of a pre-printed form.
These forms were printed on "cheque paper" to prevent fraud, and customers had to attend in person and obtain a numbered form from the cashier.
In an increasing number of countries cheques have either become a marginal payment system or have been completely phased out.
However, since the 19th century, the spelling cheque (from the French word chèque) has become standard for the financial instrument in the Commonwealth and Ireland, while check is used only for other meanings, thus distinguishing the two definitions in writing.