The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Tally \Tal"ly\, n.; pl. Tallies. [OE. taile, taille, F. taille
a cutting, cut tally, fr. tailler to cut, but influenced
probably by taill['e], p. p. of tailler. See Tailor, and
cf. Tail a limitation, Taille, Tallage.]
1. Originally, a piece of wood on which notches or scores
were cut, as the marks of number; later, one of two books,
sheets of paper, etc., on which corresponding accounts
Note: In purshasing and selling, it was once customary for
traders to have two sticks, or one stick cleft into two
parts, and to mark with a score or notch, on each, the
number or quantity of goods delivered, -- the seller
keeping one stick, and the purchaser the other. Before
the use of writing, this, or something like it, was the
only method of keeping accounts; and tallies were
received as evidence in courts of justice. In the
English exchequer were tallies of loans, one part being
kept in the exchequer, the other being given to the
creditor in lieu of an obligation for money lent to
2. Hence, any account or score kept by notches or marks,
whether on wood or paper, or in a book; especially, one
kept in duplicate.
3. One thing made to suit another; a match; a mate.
They were framed the tallies for each other.
4. A notch, mark, or score made on or in a tally; as, to make
or earn a tally in a game.
5. A tally shop. See Tally shop, below.
Tally shop, a shop at which goods or articles are sold to
customers on account, the account being kept in
corresponding books, one called the tally, kept by the
buyer, the other the counter tally, kept by the seller,
and the payments being made weekly or otherwise by
agreement. The trade thus regulated is called tally trade.
To strike tallies, to act in correspondence, or alike.
Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):
TALLIES, evidence. The parts of a piece of wood out in two, which persons
use to denote the quantity of goods supplied by one to the other. Poth. Obl.
pt. 4, c. 1, art. 2, Sec. 7.