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  • Writer's pictureHeather Davis

Before Plastic or Swiping, we had the Queen

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

Celebrating all that old-school fiscal wisdom, is stately Queen Cash.

Called a till in the U.K., this vintage machine was beautifully effective at securing many a merchants’ hard-earned cash.

Queen Cash - Urban Natural Designs handcrafted artwork

The first cash register was invented just after the Civil War. James Ritty owned a saloon in Ohio and invented the register as a way to stop his employees from embezzling. Its name declared Ritty’s confidence in his new creation. With his brother, they patented the

Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier in 1883.

Likely needing to get back to saloon business, Ritty sold his register company just one year later. Renamed, National Cash Register was born. For almost a century, NCR improved the machines, adding the advanced fraud protection of the paper roll for receipt and bookkeeping purposes as well as an electric motor. By 1900, 200K registers has been sold. By 1922, the company sold 2 million machines in just that year alone. The product line continued to evolve with National having applied for over 2,400 patents by 1944.

Many things changed in the 1970’s and for cash registers as much as anything. The manufacturing moved overseas and they lost much of their old-fashioned personality. They got new rap names: ECR [electronic cash register] and POS [point of sale]. They all began to take on a generic look. Progress. No thank you.

What was at the time, cutting-edge technology, are now relics of a golden age. Old registers pay tribute to a time when we paid in cash, saved our pennies and were not yet drowning in debt. The Great Depression informed a generation of people to do more with less.

Not unlike the real English royal matriarch herself, Queen Cash is notoriously thrifty. I say we pay attention and learn a thing or two. She is a queen after all.

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