Cash register

(Inv. 2014/104/1)


Bronze, wood
National Cash Register Company, Clase 400
United States, 1913

Caja registradora frontal

 

In popular imagination, cash registers are one of the symbols of money. Made solely for handling coins and banknotes in places of business, they serve both to help shops’ accounting and protect their money. The cash register’s inventor was the American John Ritty, a saloon owner, who in 1879 conceived a machine which allowed him to register the day’s takings without errors and, especially, prevent theft by his employees. In fact, the first cash registers were given the name “The Incorruptible Cashier.”

The invention was quickly improved, until the electronic machines we know today. Cash register is one of the evolutionary stages of present-day calculators and computers: this machine, manufactured in 1913, was already able to calculate, register and distinguish between cash and credit, the employee carrying out the operation, and give the customer receipt. It was a high-end, high-technology tool.

From 1885, the machines of the National Cash Register Company, adapted to the currencies of different countries, were sold all over the world. In spite of the initial reticence of owners, who had to invest in an expensive machine, and employees, who felt that their honour was being questioned, National cash registers became a prestige symbol that all establishments needed to show off. Their attractive finishes, some designed by the jeweller Tiffany & Co., made them objects which were not only useful, but also beautiful.

Bought in 2014, this cash register’s last owner was the Bilbao restaurant Casa Vasca, closed in the same year.