Noname Antiques » Antique Cash Registers Value (Identification & Price Guides)

Antique Cash Registers Value (Identification & Price Guides)

The antique cash register is one way to make payment transactions secure, faster, and more accurate. These functional pieces of equipment were manufactured for more than two centuries, and you should not expect to find them in modern shops. And you might be wondering, what is the value of an antique cash register?

A precise answer for this question might stand pretty long, requiring you to dig deep enough to arrive at a conclusion. Therefore, this article has detailed everything you need to know about antique cash registers. Keep reading for more information.

The History and the Evolution of the Cash Register

James Ritty cashier
Image Credit: historyofinformation

The history of cash registers is highly revolutionary. For instance, the history is dated back to 1879, when James Ritty invented it.

Ritty grew tired of his profits being stolen by his workers as a salon owner. He, therefore, invented a cash register. This was part of his effort to track his money and keep track of how much profit he made.

At that time, the cash register was only designed to track income but not give change. However, that evolution would come later.

Ritty then sold the interests in his business to a company that would eventually become the NCR (National Cash Register) company. NCR was founded by John H. Patterson, which later became the major driver of the cash register in the late 19th century and the early 20th century.

Patterson oversaw some evolution of the cash register as it became highly lucrative and more profitable. For instance, there were mechanical improvements to the cash register, which included;

  • Paper receipts
  • Additional slots for both paper and coin currency
  • Additional buttons to input different denominations of currency.
  • Displays that allowed customers to view how much they were being charged.

The advanced cash register models had more features. This enabled them to make changes for customers automatically.

The device saw further evolutions in the 20th century. For instance, the cash register moved from being purely mechanical to a hybrid device. This is because it incorporated electric motors.

The NCR company would become a top seller and innovator of the cash registers. For instance, they evolved into a class 1000 cash register. This register stood the test of time and had more sales in the 1950s.

Cash registers saw more evolution from 1962 going forward. For instance, they could take input from manual credit card processing machines. More evolution saw cash registers allowing credit cards to be used automatically for sales.

Cash registers have incorporated near-field communication credit cards and new credit card payments in recent years. Besides, they have evolved to allow customers to perform digital touch screen input. Furthermore, they allowed customers to receive receipts via email or text rather than print.

The Appearance of the Antique Cash Register

Most of the antique cash registers are heavy. They also bear a passing resemblance to a normal typewriter with their stepped-key and circular keys designs.

From the customers’ point of view, these cash registers appear rectangular. They bear a unique design alongside the back and sides of the register’s case. This unique design can be the company or the manufacturing logo.

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Furthermore, the tops of these antique cash registers often bear the name of the manufacturer or model. This is usually in an easily discernable print, making their identification immediate.

The National Cash Register Company

National Cash Register
Image Credit: fineartamerica

John H. Patterson bought “The National Manufacturing Company” and its cash register patents in 1884. He then renamed it “National Cash Register Company.” It is now known as the NCR.

Within a few years of this purchase, he developed the cash registers to include paper rolls that recorded sales. He even manufactured some cash registers with electric motors in 1906.

In his company, Patterson employed a strategy of making all his cash registers virtually attractive. He would attract more and more customers as the years passed.

As the NCR company’s success rapidly grew, John Patterson overtook most of his competitors. As such, he dominated the cash register market. For instance, by 1920, the NCR company had sold more than 2 million cash registers.

How Much Does an Old National Cash Register Weigh?

How much an old national cash register weighs varies depending on the material and size of the cash register. For instance, national cash registers made out of brass can weigh more than 120 pounds.

On the other hand, national cash registers made of wood would often weigh less.

What Are Antique Cash Registers Made Of?

brass cash register
Image Credit: formdecor

Antique cash registers came in six materials: brass, silver, mahogany (wood), nickel, copper, and gold. They are also made of three finishes: bronze (red brass), copper oxidized, and nickel.

In most cases, antique cash registers are made of brass, and they are mostly copper oxidized or nickel-plated.

Brass antique cash registers

These antique cash registers are made of solid brass that can be polished to an amazing reddish-gold color. You can polish it with Brasso or have it buffed professionally and lacquered. Lacquering can delay tarnishing. Uncoated brass will tarnish slowly to a beautiful patina, just like any brass object.

Nickel-plated antique cash registers

These antique cash registers can be made of cast iron or brass. They appear silver or chrome. It is fairly difficult to find a Nickel-plated cash register with an excellent original finish.

Nickel does not tarnish and can be polished and buffed with an appropriate compound like Brasso. It also does not require to be lacquered. Besides, patterns such as Renaissance appear great in Mickel.

Copper oxidized antique cash registers

These antique cash registers can be made of brass or cast iron. They appear as a copper color which has tarnished black.

Generally, the original cash register finish is stripped off, polished, and cleaned. It is then copper-plated and oxidized, and finally, the smooth parts and some details are polished back to copper. The final antique cash register has an elegant look.

How to Identify Antique Cash Registers?

Identifying an antique cash register takes nothing much. For instance, you can somewhat easily identify it using your naked eyes.

Here are the fundamentals that you can use to identify an antique cash register;

The construction material

This is by far the most popular and simplest strategy that you can use to identify an antique cash register. For instance, wood was the first preferred material used to make cash registers after its invention.

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In 1888, brass started to replace wood. This initiated a more durable structure. However, there were several antique designs that included a wood-metal-brass combination. 1915 saw the transition from brass to still, initiating lightweight models.

The decorative exterior

Cash register models before 1915 had many exterior decorative details. The introduction of steel almost abolished the tradition of accommodating extra decorative details.

However, the actual value of an antique register depends on its exterior decoration. Therefore, you can easily identify antique cash register value by paying attention to the surface decorations.

Functioning mechanism

The cash registering mechanism used to be different from the present to a considerable extent. However, the cash register system evolution resulted in many unique mechanisms. This makes it difficult to identify antique cash registers without understanding how the model works.

Fortunate, there are online communities that can help you identify antique cash registers based on the functioning mechanisms. You can also contact the official websites or social media platforms such as the national cash registers and other brands group.

The presence of markings

Almost all antique cash registers are engraved, imprinted, and stamped with the brand name. This was an easy way to narrow down the identification of the antique cash registers. However, extensive production came with many distinctive model numbers in the past. This made it easy to identify the authenticity of the antique cash registers without leaving any more confusion.

The interior compartment

The earlier interior compartment designs were super simple to create confusion in your mind. This made it easier to identify antique cash registers. However, this was not the best strategy for identifying antique cash registers.

The additional features

The main section of the antique cash register construction was covered by wood or brass. The supporting sections held metal features with nickel plating on the exterior. Therefore, the following features can help you identify antique cash registers:

  • Lid counter
  • Holding knob
  • Dust covers
  • Cabinet locks
  • Bill weight

You can also check the front surface for any initially attached markings or plate footprint.

Antique Cash Register Values

The antique cash register value is thousands of dollars. For instance, it ranges anywhere from under $200 to more than $2500. The good news is that there are antique cash registers for every budget. However, the valuation depends on many interdependent factors. These factors include:

  • The intact features

Generally, damaged marking, missing pieces or stuck opening of the antique cash register will set its value low.

  • The current condition

A fully uninterrupted and functional cash register is essential in retaining its original market value. For instance, the value keeps dropping with the extent of poorer existence.

  • The original age

Generally, antique cash registers in the 1800s hold more value than their counterparts in the 1900s.

  • The market demand

Usually, the desperate sellers and clients can reset the price and value of the antique cash register.

  • The design of the register

Typically, the physical appearance of the antique cash register plays a vital role in determining the current value of the register. Impressive dimensions are worth a huge amount.

  • The surface details

The value of decorative antique cash registers will be high compared to simplistic models. Besides, registers with Gold-plated surfaces can initiate a skyrocketing rise in value.

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Tips on Buying an Antique Cash Register

Here are some of the tips that you should consider while screening or buying an antique cash register:

Evaluate your needs and size

It is vital to evaluate your needs by the number of departments, inventory size, and projected business growth.

For instance, if your business or store size is big, you might need an antique cash register with shortcuts to product codes. You might need a scale connected to your antique cash register if you sell or handle many bulk goods.

Furthermore, if you need more than one antique cash register, they all must be able to handle multiple cashier logins.

Examine the security features

Keeping checks, cash, and electronic payment information safe has always been a concern. Therefore, it is vital to examine the cash register for fundamental security features.

For instance, antique cash registers with a password feature will keep unauthorized individuals from using your antique cash register. It will also keep them from accessing sensitive customer payment and cash information.

Also, a cash register with a locker drawer will ensure that unwanted persons can not gain access to checks and cash.

Consider the receipt printing options

It is also essential to consider whether you want to use a print ribbon or thermal cash register. The initial cost of a thermal printer is relatively expensive.

However, it can save you more money in the long run. For instance, they use heat to print the receipts. Therefore, you do not need to buy new ink cartridges regularly.

On the other hand, a print ribbon printer is considerably cheaper. Besides, the texts on the receipts are clearer. However, you will need to spend more cash on new ink cartridges.

Decide whether you want to buy from a vendor or a retailer

When screening for a basic antique cash register with few features, shopping at your regular retailer shop can be your best bet. You can easily find a quality antique cash register locally. Some business owners even consider buying secondhand or used models at a lower cost.

On the other hand, if you are screening for a sophisticated cash register, it is ideal to buy directly from a vendor. They should be able to offer a wide range of packages and pricing options to accommodate your company’s size and needs.

Explore the benefits of having inventory tracking

If your business deals with large inventory quantities, a more comprehensive antique cash register with an inventory tracking feature can be essential.

This will help in monitoring the daily transactions. You will always be aware of the exact number of products you have on hand. Rather than doing manual inventory counts, having a cash register with an inventory feature can save time. It can also prevent you from running out of a particular product.


It might seem easy to identify a real deal concerning antique cash registers. However, The process can get noticeably hard in valuating the intended antique cash register. But, this article should have saved you unnecessary research and time to make a dependable start while valuating antique cash registers.

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