Brass Cash Registers
 
Cash Register Grading System
In order to try to get an even system to place a value on a cash register, the following guidelines are offered for your consideration. All brands of cash registers will fit in these guidelines.
 

Restored National model # 2Grade 1
This machine should be as close to factory original as possible. By this, I mean it should look and operate as it did when it was delivered to the customer that bought it for the first time. No machine will really qualify completely, as they are a minimum of 80 years old, but we should try.
 
The machine should be complete and working smoothly.
 
If the cabinet is bronze ( Finish "C" ), it should be highly polished and clear lacquered with a car quality lacquer, to protect the polished finish. It was brightly polished when it left the factory many years ago. Some like the entire machine polished and others like only the flat edges done with the patterned area of a lesser brightness but clean. Both are acceptable.
 
The cabinet should be all the same color except knobs, bill weights, dust covers, lid counters, locks and any attached items that were normally nickel-plated. These should be polished to remove pits and rust and then freshly nickel-plated. Screws should be replaced where they are damaged and should match the finish. Often these are not polished and lacquered and tarnish quickly.
 
If the cabinet was originally nickel-plated ( Finish "B" ), the nickel is always worn off in spots and often painted to hide the wear. The old nickel must be stripped off, then the cabinet polished and freshly nickel-plated, then lacquered. Chrome was not available in that period so this is not an option. Almost all of the nickel-plated machines will be a mix of yellow and bronze, plus the drawer front will be solid nickel when stripped. Yellow brass was copper, zinc and tin. This was cheaper and saved money when you were going to plate it. Also, the drawer fronts were solid nickel because the plating would wear off from your hands closing the drawer. A bronze machine was copper and tin, to make it red and was a lot more expensive. Many times they didn't have all the parts in yellow and would use red when necessary. Therefore, you could end up with a 3 color machine after stripping.
 
If the cabinet is bronze with black oxide (Finish  "A" ), it can be polished and fresh oxide applied or left as bronze. If you oxide it, the flat edges should be polished brightly while the pattered area is very black. Some like the high spots to have the black lightly polished off. It should look professional and also be lacquered.
 
Copper oxide ( Finish "D" ) should also be polished and oxide finish renewed. Leaving it copper only is not acceptable. If the copper has been damaged, it will have to be re-plated first.
 
Yellow brass machines (Finish "E") should be highly polished and lacquered. Yellow oxide (En) can be either way, just like the bronze.
 
If the cabinet is cast iron, it should be plated like the original. In the life of cash registers, these were copper and nickel-plated. The nickel was put on the cast iron without copper plating first. The modern way is to copper plate first then to nickel plate. This is also done to prevent flaking off later. This is OK as it makes it better than original. The machine needs to be polished to get rid of pits and rust before plating. If it is not really done right, the nickel will come off or look bad.
 
If it happens to be a wooden cabinet, it should be in great shape and if any parts that have be repaired or replaced, it should match perfectly. Polyurethane is not acceptable, as a finish. It was not available during that period and would make future repairs difficult.
 
There are a select few cabinets that were made of poor quality metals and can not be refinished, as they tend to dissolve when dipped in any cleaning solution and this means they can never be restored to a Grade 1 machine.
               
All cash registers, no matter what cabinet style, should have the following done. The insides should be cleaned and oiled, with all assemblies repaired and adjusted. All features, such as special counters, customer counters, lid counters, total counters, department counters, detail adder wheels, drawer control selector, emergency drawer release, locks, lock counters, and any other items present, should be working properly.  I find that quite often people do not know how to operate these machines and fail to address all of the problems.
 
The flags, flash's, indicator windows, counter windows and brackets should be repainted and the lettering should be silk screened. Plastic cut out's can be used if they are of a good quality and match the original style. If it has the round indicator wheel, these should be redone with the plastic strips unless they are in excellent shape. One letter being bad can ruin all. The counter wheels on a detail adder should be replaced and varnished to seal them. Any chipped or cracked glass should be replaced with glass of the correct thickness.       
 
The key arms should be removed, sanded smooth and nickel-plated, not chromed. They key rings and checks should be replaced. A premium is set on glass checks. The marble slab should be replaced if cracked, chipped or discolored. Not all machines have the marble plate. The underside of the lid should be velvet lined.
 
The drawer and base should be refinished. A premium is placed on having the original guarantee label on the bottom of the drawer. The rails  and catches should be sanded to a bright finish but not necessarily nickel-plated as it usually flakes off. If the whole drawer base is wood or has any wooden parts, these should be refinished to a cabinet makers quality.
 
If the machine has a printer, it should be functional, although ribbons and paper are not readily available. If these are available, the print quality should be as good as possible.
 
All locks, bill weights, counter covers, lid counter, knobs, gold coin cover and like items should be nickel plated.
 
Any attached items such as a clock and time clock, need not work but should have the correct workings inside and be complete. It is a plus if a watchmaker has repaired them. Name plaques and original top signs add a premium and should be included if the machine was offered with one. A remanufactured one can be used if of good quality. It is often necessary to use remanufactured parts and they are OK if correct in color and fit.
 
They also should have a complete set of keys for all locks and counters.
 
Note: Some items are more valuable than the machine they are on and should be considered as a separate unit for pricing and setting a value. An example is a top sign with a clock on it. This may be more valuable than most machines.
 
Day/night clocks, time clocks, original or personalized top signs (both metal, glass and electric), goose necked lights, personalized name plates, both front and back ones, glass key checks, multiple drawers cabinets (oak, mahogany, pine or birch), floor cabinets, electric motor machines, are a few of the variables when pricing machines.


 
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