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8vo, pp. x, 206, [4] advertisements for mutual societies; some gatherings unopened and two gatherings roughly opened, slightly dusty in places; original dark green cloth upper cover lettered in gilt, slightly torn at head and foot of spine. Inscribed on front free endpaper 'Mr J. Aldridge with the Author's best esteem, May 1849.' First edition of the work which marked a watershed moment in the history of the building society movement.Stratchley described the mutual building societies, or terminating societies, of his time had several disadvantages. 'Members had to contribute equally and there was a long time lag between the first and the last members being housed. It was difficult to withdraw from a society once committed and it was cumbersome to admit new members. The terminating building society was not suited to cater for those who simply wished to invest their savings without taking out mortgages, which was a major drawback given the dearth of investment opportunities for middle-and working-class investors.' [Samy]Arthur Scratchley (1821-1897) was born in Halifax Nova Scotia and came to England where he studied at the university of Cambridge before becoming a London-based actuary and barrister. In his work he proposed a new and improved form of building society that would quickly become the standard model for building societies in the future: the permanent building society. 'To overcome these limitations, Scratchley proposed a "more correct formation and management" of societies, which involved establishing them as permanent concerns. The crucial change was to formally separate investing and borrowing members, enabling the society to restructure its contracts and to offer each group different rates of return. As before, investors paid a monthly subscription for a fixed number of years, in return for an agreed amount of interest which they could only realize once their shares had been fully paid. Investors were also entitled to bonuses paid from surplus profits earned by the society, with a part of the surplus retained to build a reserve fund to meet any unexpected losses and to provide free insurance to investors. To its borrowers, the society could guarantee payments for a fixed number of years, whatever the subsequent condition of the society. The conferral of ownership rights to both investors and borrowers was intended to allay fears that managers would act opportunistically against their interests, at least in so far as favouring one group of members over the other' [Samy]. See Antoninus Samy The Building Society Promise. Access, Risk, and Efficiency 1880—1939, OUP, 2016.
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