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Registers

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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19c National Brass Cash Register w Retailer Crest
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National Cash Register, model #104
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Sellers Who Sell Registers


Auction Team Breker

Auction Team Breker

Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC

Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC

South Bay Auctions Inc

South Bay Auctions Inc

Henry's Auktionshaus AG

Henry's Auktionshaus AG