Brass Cash Registers
Identifying Your National cash Register

There are about 7 different things that you need to know in describing your cash register to someone.

1st if possible find the model or size number.

This is usually on a plate up under the front glass. This can be a single plate with two numbers. Usually the larger or upper # is the serial number & the smaller or lower # is the size #. It can also be 2 plates, one on each side of the bar below the glass.
Note 1: Some of the early registers did not have a size # but had a serial # plate. The only way that you can find the size number is from the factory sticker pasted under the bottom of the drawer or be able to answer the questions below.
Note 2: The first size #'s appeared in a little shield just below the serial # plate.
Note 3: Don't confuse the patent date numbers that are usually located in the same area. There are a few models that have the size & serial # stamped in the middle of a patent plate but they are larger than the other print.
Note 4: The early crank series has the serial # & size # located between the $1 & 10 cent key. It can be a shield or on the same plate. The newer ones moved the plate up under the front glass.
Note 5: The modern machines sometimes have the #'s on a chrome strip that holds the coin slab.

2nd you need to have is the serial # which is basically described above.

The serial # is not terrible important as it will only help in dating how old your machine is. It will also tell you if it is factory rebuilt by having an "S" in front of the serial #. It may have a letter after the serial # that will enable you to find the year that it was originally built.

3rd Learn to describe your register.

  • Is it a press down key operated machine?
  • How many keys does it have?
  • Is it a crank operated machine with rows of key from 1 to 9. How many rows?
  • Is it a lever action machine? Where you move levers to set the amounts.
  • Is it a detail adder? A total adder? This will take a little studying to understand. The detail adder has an add wheel for each key(early machines). The total adder has a central total where every item goes into the same total.

4th Is it red brass, nickel plated, copper with black oxide, yellow brass, mixed color or painted.

Note: Flat metal machines can be painted with a wood grained pattern.

5th Cabinet style; This also can be a little difficult.

The earliest machines were built of wood. These could have many inlayed pattern such as "Shell', Tulips, morning glory, ribbons, persimmon, etc. they could also be plain. The wood can be oak, mahogany, birch, cherry, etc. There can be sections that have burled wood.

Also some really early machines can be flat brass plates with some of the same designs. (use a magnet to see if it is steel or brass) The first cast brass cabinets were a wide scroll pattern.

Then they switched to fine scroll. They had a period where they put the company name in the art work where the serial # is located, which is called the "Signature" model.

They changed the cabinet designs as years went by. Some changes were made to distinguish between different series. Many registers will have the same size # but have 3 different cabinet styles.

See the cabinet stye section.

6th Unique items:

  • Does it have a top sign? A top sign means a sign mounted on the top of the register; not the indicators.
  • Is the to sign lighted?
  • Does the machine have an electric motor?
  • Does it have a personalized name plate on the front or back of the machine. Usually the owners name (not National)
  • Does it have a time clock on it?
  • is the drawer base wood (not the 1" bottom base)? What kind, oak or mahogany?
  • How many drawers? Does the drawer open in the back(very rare)?

7th Is the machine working?

Are parts missing or broken? How clean is it? Is there any unusual history?

It can help a lot to know how National's size numbers progressed.

The first Ritty cash registers were were generally identifiable by a name. Then Ritty needed help with finances so The National Manufacturing Co. was formed. They changed things & started a numbering system. After John Paterson bought the company it became The National Cash Register Co. The 2 main types of registers being built at that time were the detail adder & the paper punch machines.

    The first detail adder series was the:
  • "0" with 11 keys
  • "1" with 11 keys & extended base
  • "1 ½" 20 keys
  • "2" 25 keys
  • "3" 30
  • "4" 40 key
  • All of these could have wood cabinets, flat brass, wide scroll, & fine scroll cabinets
    Over the years these registers had changes due to improvement & economy which made them change the size numbers.
  • The "0" became the "5"
  • The "1" became the "6"
  • The "1 ½" became the "7"
  • The "2" became the "8"
  • The "3" became the "9"
  • The "4" became The "10"
  • All of these could have wide scroll or the newer Fleur-de-lis cabinets
    At this time there was a lot of stiff competition from companies building cheaper machines so NCR built another detail adder series with a nickel plated cast iron cabinet. They were still the quality detail adder.
  • "11" with 11 keys.
  • "13", 14, & 15
  • These were nickel plated cast iron cabinets in the Ionic style.

Models 17 thru 29 were a mix of numbers that were reused? Some interesting machines fall in this area.

The models 20, 21, & 22 were the paper punch machines.
These were usually only wood cabinets.

In 1892 NCR built the 33 series which was a total adder but sort of a weird application.
The 30, 31 & 33 were the only models of this mechanical application except for a model 63 & 64 which had a portion of the machine could be combined with the detail adder(rare).
These could be built in wood, fine scroll & later the Fleur-de-lis.

NCR introduced the 35 series in 11892 also. This was a total adder as well. The 35 was designed by Thomas Carney & NCR got this design when they acquired The Bensinger cash register co. The first model built were the 34 & 35 which were unique because they had front facing keys. The cabinets was still a fine scroll but with a "Chicken Scratch back ground where the 33 had a stipled back ground. As these registers caught on many customers wanted different features such as, printers, special key arrangements, 5 cent increments & penny, 10 cent , dollar & even 10 dollar keys.

You will find these basic machine 36 to 49 with printers ¼, ½ & ¾ as options. All of these were big machines & NCR liked to cover all the bases with small, medium & large machines. The machines are found with wood & fine scroll to start & were changed to the Renaissace cabinet then in 1902 to the Dolpin pattern.

The 50 & 51 were the small candy store machine with 15 keys.
The 52 was the 15 key machine with a wide base.
These started with the Renaissance cabinet & got the Dolpin cabinet in 1902.
Note: the first 52's had a figured coin slab & later to 3 piece marble.

More model of the 35 from the 54 to the 60 were built with the fine scroll cabinet. The were many model in this group that were built with a cast iron nickel plated or oxidized cabinet to compete with other cheaper registers.
Note: a lot of these number are used more than once for registers like the autographic boxes.

In 1908 when NCR reorganized there numbering system, the 35 series became the 300 series. They were the same basic machine with some mechanical improvements.

In 1891 the 79 series was invented. It was a full keyboard, crank, total adder. As with 35 they had so many variations from 70 up to 99. All of these machines were the same basic mechanism but with extras like, many different printers, up to 6 rows of amount buttons. motors, multi drawers & lights. There is no way to tell you what each number is.

The cabinet style was fine scroll & later became the Empire style.

The 79 series became the 400 series in 1908

The 100 principle introduced in 1902, was a large total adder that not only had a daily total but could have up to 8 separate drawer or depart total. This, along with separate drawers could give the operators individual cash responsibility. You could have up to 9 drawers in a floor cabinet register.
Models 100 to 109 were available.
This 100 series became the 500 series in 1908

The 110 principle were NCR's "Dial" Registers. They were designed to compete with the Kruse register. The were meant to intimidate Kruse into selling & only a few were built or sold. They are probably the most sought after register made. NCR later bought out Kruse & you won't see many of these either.
Models built 110, 111, 112, & 113

The 135 principle was a redesigned total adder. It was built cheaply & also meant to beat the competition.

Models 128,129, 130, 135, 137, 138, 144 & 147 were available. The 128, 129 & 130 are the most desirable. They were first built with a cast iron Bohemian design with nickel or oxidized copper plating. These machines rusted badly in salty areas so they changed the cabinet to a very attractive bronze Art-nou-veau cabinet. The art-nou-veau cabinet can be found in bronze & cast iron.

The 171 principle was introduced in October, 1900. It was a lever operated crank detail adder with a very attractive all bronze Bohemian style cabinet. These were built in the USA but you may see more of them in Europe.
Models 171 thru 188.

The 235 principle was introduced in July, 1906. It was basically a "35" with a fine scroll cabinet. The 250 & 251 are the best ones to find. These were sort of an economy version like the 313 but very attractive.
Models available 235 with 31 key; 237 with 27 keys, 238 with 22 keys, 244 with 21 keys, 247 with 27 keys, 250 & 251 with 15 keys. These were abandoned in 1908.

After 1908:

Class One –numbered from 1 to 99
Autographic machines (written paper records).

Class 100-numbered from 141, 143, 151 & 153
These were introduced in 1908 as a department store register. It could print a slip & along with the O.K. Stamp & telephone attachment handle credit data. It had a black cabinet with gold pin striping.
lever & crank or electrically operated.
Total adding & printing machine.

Class 200- numbered from 200 to 299
key operated with separate counter wheels (old detail adder) machines.

Class 300- numbered from 300 to 399
key operated total adder (old 35)

Class 400- from 400 to 499
Key & crank or electrically operated machines (old 79)

Class 500- numbers from from 500 to 599
Key & crank or electrically operated total adder machines with separate counters (old 100 series)

Class 5000-NCR made the 5000 with a double department counter. It has 2 pinch levers.

Class 600- numbered from 600 to 699
lever & crank operated machines (mostly found in Europe)

Class 700- numbered from 700 to 799
Key operated total adder built with a steel cabinet (replaced the 300 series)
Note: Also can be a key & crank operated machines with a flat full keyboard (mostly found in Europe)

Class 800- numbers from 800 to 899
Key & crank or electrically operated machines (old 400 series)

Class 900-numbers from 900 to 999
key & crank or electrically operated machines (old 500 series)

9000- NCR made a double department counter. It has 2 pinch levers

Class 1000- numbers from 1000 to 1099
Key & drawer operated total adding machines.
These are sort of unique because they were built to beat out the American drawer operated machines. The had a bronze or nickel cabinet & worked so well that NCR continued to build these with a flat metal cabinet into the 40's.

Class 1100 (flat steel cabinet with wood grained finish)
This machine is basically a 700 with a motorized receipt printer

Class 1200 (flat steel with black wrinkle finish)
This machine is motorized ticket machine on a tri-pod

Class 1500 (flat steel cabinet with wood grained finish)
Key & electrically operated 4 department slip validating machine with full indicators front & back.

Class 1600 (flat steel cabinet)
This is a modernized lever operated with a motor.

Class 1700 (flat steel cabinet)
This is a 700 series that has a motorized slip printer.

Class 1800 (modernized flat steel wood grained cabinet)
This is a modernized 800

Class 1900 ( Steel cabinet sometimes chrome plated)
This is a 4 department electrically operated bar machine that can give a receipt or print on a slip.

N-2000 This is the first machine that added each customers items & give you a separate total.

    Symbols & abbreviations.
  • DA = detail adder
  • TA = Total adder
  • PR = Paper roll or paper punch
  • DS = Department store
  • MC = multiple counter
  • R&S = receipt & slip
  • E = electric
  • L = Lights
  • DD = Dial & drawer
  • CD = check printer ( you insert the check under the key arm before you press it.)
  • F = Floor cabinet
  • C = cash drawer (usually has a number in front of it like 4C = 4 cash drawers)
  • FR = factory rebuilt
  • S = early factory rebuilt when it is in front of a serial #

I know there are 1000's of more machines that NCR built but I can't list them all. These are the ones that are important to collectors ( the last 8 are not that important). I also know that NCR re-used many number & you may have to send pictures for help.

For the new flat metal machines I do have a nice sales catalog that will help you learn more. These are copies of original but nicely done. See my listings for Sales, operators & service manual. I also have made video tapes of repairs located in the DVD section.