Saturday, May 15, 2010

Vintage Cash Registers – Daryle Lambert's Antiques and Collectibles Blog – Not what you think

 313 National Cash Register - Thanks to

Value can often be in the eye of the beholder and you can be left scratching your head if you're wrong. Here is something that I believe will have you talking to yourself, because just the sight of a glistening brass vintage cash register should mean money, right? Well think again, because most of them sell for very little.

In my many years dealing with objects that have great value, there are still surprises in store for me each week. One of my great surprises is when I run across something like an original 313 National Cash Register from the early 1900's, in mint condition selling for less than $1000. This happened to me this week when I spotted what I thought was a treasure and it turned out to be worth less than 25% of what my appraisal would have been. Yes, if I had acted on instinct rather than taking the time to find a duplicate item, I would be crying in my hat today.

You see, to my eye, this small glimmering brass register sitting on the table in mint condition should have been worth every penny of $2500, but not so. This is just another example where if you're not sure and the price is substantial on what you're looking to buy, take the time necessary to protect your capital. Cash registers don't seem to have any real collector’s value and they seem to most likely be decorative pieces. One way to tell if something is collectible is to see if there are guide books available for that item and in the case of cash registers, there aren't.

Some of the reasons that cash registers aren't in favor with collectors are that they weigh a ton, there aren’t many places that you can display them, the cost of shipping them is huge and not many people remember them as being part of their past. All of these reasons should be considered before you purchase one.

I am not saying you should not purchase a cash register, but I would offer even less than the 25% of retail that we use as a rule for the members of the Daryle Lambert's Antiques and Collectibles Club. Other items that should fall into the category of caution are typewriters, calculators, safes and sewing machines. It is very difficult to make money with these items unless they are practically given to you.

With the exception of the 313 National cash register, most others will only sell for a few hundred bucks and I personally wouldn't handle them for that. I have to give you two that did sell on eBay: a model 52 brass national from 1882 brought $2700 and a model 24 national ended at $1500, but besides those two almost all the rest went unbid on. Since cash registers are hard to sell, it might be wise to really consider if they are for you. Your money is the most important tool you have and next is your time, so guard them both carefully. 

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