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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.