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