In the late 1800, most businesses were getting larger. They were no longer the family owned business with one or two people handling the money. The large businesses found that the return on their investment was not what it should be. In many cases their employees were making more money than the owners.
One Cafe owner, James Ritty, from Dayton, Ohio, is generally credited with inventing the first cash register. His Cafe, known as “No. 10” or “the Empire” had a great many patrons but James found that he was losing money. Together with his brother John, they patented the first cash register on November 4, 1879. They developed a number of different model, one of which was named “The Incorruptible Cashier”. Their marketing effort was not a great success and the company was sold a couple of times. They did bring the cash register to the attention of a man named John Patterson. On January 5, 1885 he acquired 227 shares out of 300, in “The National Manufacturing Co.”.
He changed the name to “The National Cash Register Co.”. The sale of the cash register met a great deal of resistance, both from the merchants, but especially from employees. John Patterson was a great businessman. He made the cash register the focal point of the business. This was done by making the register attractive to the public and designing features that helped the owners to prevent theft by their employees. The register cabinets were made of the finest woods with many different inlay patterns. Also in bronze, brass, nickel, copper oxide, and flat metal but with engraved or fancy painted enamel designs. The registers came with a 2 year guarantee which meant that it had to be well built. Therefore a great many survived the wear and tear of many years of use and were attractive enough that their owners didn’t throw them away. Many are still tucked away in attics, garages and basements.
Other companies saw the potential and also developed cash registers. While National was the largest, there were over 200 different manufacturers. Many of these changed ownership and were the same machine with a different name. They also made very attractive registers and these swelled the ranks of the antique cash registers.
We have a piece of that rich history here at Pawn King in Merrillville. The National Cash Register Model 211, known as the “Candy Store Register,” is a beautifully detailed icon of another time. Made from heavy brass and real wood, the attention to aesthetics is fantastic.
The machine is in superb condition. It is fully functional, and has all original parts as far as we can tell. Only a small brass description plate on the front is missing, from the looks of the wear and patina on the screw holes where it was once attached it has been missing for some time.
While getting photographs of the register, and inspecting the details to authenticate I noticed something sliding around under the cash drawer. Of course worried about it being a broken part, I carefully turned the register on it’s side and used a flashlight to look inside. To my surprise I found an Indian Head penny from 1901. The idea that this penny slipped behind the drawer many many years ago, only to be recovered now is really neat. The penny itself is not worth all too much, hence it’s now in my personal collection of oddities, but its value as a remnant of the past is immeasurable. We still lose pennies behind our cash drawers at the shop today, it goes to show that some things just don’t change.
Because of the delicate nature of the antique, our National Cash Register Model 211 is not on our sales floor. It is for sale for local pick-up through Pawn King’s eBay store. Serious buyers may request an appointment to see it. Please feel free to give us a call prior at our Pawn King Merrillville location, (219)757-0230. Ask for Frank, (aka “the dude with the beard), or contact us HERE.