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The cash register was invented in 1879 by James Ritty, a saloon owner in Dayton, Ohio. He produced the Incorruptible Cashier by modeling its inner workings after a device that was used to count the spins of an ocean liner's propeller in the engine room. The first cash register had metal keys that were embossed with denominations to mark the amount of sale and a bell to indicate that the register was ready to receive the cash.

The rights to Ritty's invention were purchased by Jacob H. Eckert, and then again by John H. Patterson. Patterson, who was a partner in the National Manufacturing Company, bought out his fellow investors and renamed the company the National Cash Register Company. His business became one of the leading manufacturers of cash registers of the 20th century. Today, the National Cash Register Company is known as NCR Corporation. They continue to manufacture modern electronic cash registers and computerized financial systems for businesses.

NCR antique cash registers are highly desirable to collectors today. They were manufactured with ornate designs on the outsides in brass, bronze, and nickel plate. These registers were also clearly marked with serial numbers, making them easy to date. Only two other cash register companies survived to manufacture registers in the 20th century: Ideal and Michigan.


Quick Facts

  • One method John H. Patterson used to grow his business was to buy up smaller cash register companies to eliminate the competition. He was convicted of violating anti-trust laws in the 1910s. This is one of the main reasons other cash register companies did not survive
  • The most collectible NCR registers include series 500 machines which were used by department stores and registers with a DR key, or dining room key, that were used by hotels
  • NCR cash registers in excellent working condition usually sell for over $2,000. The oldest models from the 1880s can sell for as high as $15,000

Recommended Items at Auction

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National Brass and Oak Cash Register
Feb 29, 10:00 AM PST
National Brass and Oak Cash Register
by Abell Auction
Est: $100- $100,000
$6009 Bids
National Brass Painted Cash Register
Feb 29, 10:00 AM PST
National Brass Painted Cash Register
by Abell Auction
Est: $100- $100,000
$1252 Bids
Antique Brass National Cash Register W/Key
Mar 02, 7:00 AM PST
Antique Brass National Cash Register W/Key
by GWS Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$2000 Bids
Vintage Heileman’s Old Style Light Up Clock Cash Register Topper
Mar 17, 10:00 AM CDT
Vintage Heileman’s Old Style Light Up Clock Cash Register Topper
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $100- $300
$500 Bids
National Cash Register
Feb 23, 6:15 PM EST
National Cash Register
by Auction by Daum
Est: $700- $900
$4500 Bids
National Cash Register C1902 Original In Good 313 ML, Working Nickel
Feb 23, 6:15 PM EST
National Cash Register C1902 Original In Good 313 ML, Working Nickel
by Auction by Daum
Est: $1,000- $1,200
$8000 Bids
National Cash Register C1902 Original In Good 313 ML, Working Nickel
Mar 29, 6:00 PM EDT
National Cash Register C1902 Original In Good 313 ML, Working Nickel
by Auction by Daum
Est: $1,000- $1,200
$8000 Bids
Small National Cash Register piece
Mar 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Small National Cash Register piece
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $100- $500
$500 Bids
St. Louis lever action cash register
Mar 23, 9:00 AM EDT
St. Louis lever action cash register
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $100- $500
$500 Bids
Pair of Art Deco Chrome Cash Registers, As Is.
Feb 24, 11:00 AM CST
Pair of Art Deco Chrome Cash Registers, As Is.
by Direct Auction Galleries, Inc.
Est: $100- $200
$400 Bids
NATIONAL CASH REGISTER ESPLANADE HOTEL, SPRINGFIELD OHIO.
Mar 08, 11:00 AM EST
NATIONAL CASH REGISTER ESPLANADE HOTEL, SPRINGFIELD OHIO.
by Amelia Jeffers
Est: $400- $800
$2000 Bids
A Special Edition National Cash Register
Feb 25, 10:30 AM AEDT
A Special Edition National Cash Register
by Kerleys Auctions
Est: AUD1,400- AUD1,600
AUD7000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Registers


Auction by Daum

Auction by Daum

Abell Auction

Abell Auction

Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC

Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC

GWS Auctions

GWS Auctions