Brass Cash Registers
 
About Us
My name is Richard (Dick) Witcher.  I was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1940.  My father was in the Army and we lived in France, Germany and Japan.  We were in Japan when I turned 18.  I joined the Army when I graduated high school and was sent to Fort Ord, California for basic training. I was given the battery of aptitude tests which showed that I should be trained in Office Machines at Fort Lee, Virginia.  I received training on many typewriters, adding machines, calculators and copiers.  Of course it is the Army way, and I was stationed in Texas where I worked on heavy equipment.  After my discharge in 1961, I came to Fort Meade, Maryland where my dad knew a National Cash Register (NCR) salesman.  NCR needed servicemen at that time.  I passed the test for the service department and was hired as an apprentice.  I met my wife Joan, soon after.  We have 2 sons and 4 grand kids.
 
In my early years as an NCR service man, I saw many brass cash registers still in use.  I was offered many brass registers for as little as $25, but I was only making $67 a week and had to pass.  I was finally able to afford my first cash register around 1975.  I painstakingly restored it and featured it on my homemade bar.  I had to go to the NCR technical training school in Dayton and took the family.  We had a break in while we were away and it was stolen.  I got a good settlement from the insurance company and a few years later bought a National 313.  Over the years, I was able to buy a few more and by the time I retired from NCR in 2000, with over 38 years of service, I had around 100 machines.

As a side line while I worked for NCR, I also repaired jukeboxes and resold them at shows in Philadelphia and Hackensack.  If I sold one, I bought 3 more with the money.  I took a few cash registers that I had doubles of and was able to sell them as well.  I did the same thing with the money from the cash registers.  I found that there were so many different models, brands and variations, that I was really hooked.  I knew that after my retirement I wanted to continue collecting and restoring cash registers.  I have a 20' by 30' workshop in the back of my house and I built an 18' by 38' addition on the back of the house to display my collection.  At this time I have around 350 registers: National, U.S., American, Michigan, Seymour, St. Louis, Merit, Peninsular, and many others.  I restore my own registers and some for others.  Not all of these are gems.  Many are parts machines and a lot are the flat metal machines that I also use for parts on the brass machines.  Sometimes I think that the worse shape that a register is in, the more apt I am to buy it.  I feel that I have to save it.  I restore about 30 per year and do many repairs on others that do not require a complete restoration.  I continue to buy and sell the doubles, although, if the price is right, I would sell almost any of them.

I currently am video taping the restorations as I do them.  This may not teach everyone how to restore a register but it shows a lot about the engineering and concepts of the registers.  I think anyone could enjoy the insight that these tapes will give you.  I also plan to make one on how to collect and value (price guide) NCR registers and then others very soon.

I joined the Cash Register Collectors Club about a year after it started.  We have a quarterly newsletter.  I write an article for the newsletter called "Dick's Diary".  In it, I write about all of the shows, auctions, flea markets, antique shops and newspaper ads where I see brass cash registers.  I list the cash registers and the prices asked or received.  I also include how I repair and restore registers.  I also write "Tech Tips".  In this one anyone can ask questions or advice.  I send them an answer and share it in the newsletter.  I do appraisals for club members and people that write in to the club.  I served 2 years as the club secretary and am currently the vice president.

I've been overlooking the most important member of the "us" in about us. My wife, Joan, is very tolerate of my addiction and helps by keeping my inventory and records.  We have been married for 41 years now.  More than that she loves me (most of the time).

I hope to provide you enough information to make you another enthusiastic collector of the antique cash register.    

 
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