Lot 12

Banking counter pen and holder

Date: 2006

2008, 2013, 2019, 2021. Dates that every school child knows. The first three, huge tremors within the capitalist financial industry, the latter its final glorious collapse.

The system was definitely terminally ill before it’s eventual enforced demise, but it was by direct action that it was put out of it’s own, and our, misery. And what a misery.

Adams & Smith are delighted to offer this well preserved 21st century bank pen and holder, a slightly comical device that was nonetheless widely used for many years.

It would be found on the ‘public’ counter within high street banks, enabling the ‘customers’ to fill out forms and provide a signature as a form of security.

What is most telling is that the base was fixed to the counter and the pen (joined by a chain) was fixed to the base, meaning that no customer could ‘steal’ the pen.

It in it’s own way this let’s us in to the very thought processes of this ‘banking’ industry. The customers actually trusted the banks to look after their money, - sometimes all the money they had.

And the bank? The bank didn’t even trust the customer with a cheap plastic pen.


The financial services industry is one of the most powerful lobbies in the world and its influence over politics is substantial. Like other industries it has sought to achieve this position in many, very deliberate ways.

For example, the closeness of the financial services sector to the UK government and its regulators is a cause for concern. The UK ranks second after Switzerland for the revolving door – that is the number of people moving from financial companies based in Britain to the British government, regulators and civil service and vice versa. 1

The financial services sector is also a major party donor in the UK. For example, the hedge fund and private equity industries have been eager to fund the Conservative party – dubbed the government-in-waiting. Few Tories appear to have declined their help: only 5 of the 28 MPs on the shadow cabinet have not financially benefited from the finance industry: either through second jobs, such as Francis Maude who is a paid advisor to Barclays; through direct sponsorship of their offices, as in the case of Liam Fox, who is sponsored by 3 hedge funders; or through direct gifts, like tickets to sporting events.

The close relationship between policy-makers and the finance industry is no different in Brussels, where a lot of the UK’s policies now come from. For example, there are now more finance sector executives helping draft Europe’s financial sector policies than European Commission civil servants: at least 220 corporate advisors to 150 policymaking staff. 2 This presents an obvious and pressing problem: the public interest is not synonymous with the private interests of finance companies.

1 David Miller and William Dinan, Revolving doors, accountability and transparency: emerging regulatory concerns and policy solutions in the financial crisis
2 Captive Commission, Alter EU, 2009