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This article provides fresh insights into working-class credit by examining the history of check trading. It explains the system’s origins, and its dependence on a series of relationships involving check traders and their agents, retailers, and customers. Data from the market leader– Provident Clothing and Supply Co. Ltd–is analysed to explore the scale and scope of the sector, and to examine its history from the early 1920s to the 1960s. Check trading was both an important and controversial supplier of credit to working-class families, and the article explores criticisms of the system, and the reason for its popularity.