Blackballed!

Bank of Scotland directors' ballot box

 

Bank of Scotland directors' ballot box

This curious looking item is a secret ballot box. It was used by directors of the Bank of Scotland when they needed to cast their votes in confidence. 

Each director would be given a wooden counter or ball. This he would push through the round opening and into the 'yes' or 'no' drawer below. Afterwards, the number of counters in each drawer would be added up to decide the vote. 

Examples of similar ballot boxes from other institutions, such as the Royal Astronomical Society, also survive. Sometimes the 'No' drawer was coloured black - hence the expression 'blackballed'. 

The Bank of Scotland ballot box dates from the late 18th or early 19th century. It has not been used for many years, and certainly not within living memory. It is currently on display in the Museum on the Mound

Return to From the collections to take a look at our other featured items.