Saturday, May 21, 2011


I went to a garage sale this morning in Webster Groves.  It was in Webster Park, home to $1,000,000 residences, so I was expecting high prices and newer items.  When I first walked up, there was only a boy of about 15 working the sale.  He told me he was having the sale to raise money for his Eagle Scout project.  Right away I saw some vintage appliances, but nothing terribly interesting.  The first thing I noticed was a military flight suit.  I looked it over.  It was priced at $5.  I put it back down and moved on.  Then I saw this:

It wasn't priced and I figured they'd be asking at least $75 for it.  The boys parents had come outside by this time, so I approached the father and asked him how much it was.  He threw out the old, "What will you offer?"  Hate when they do that.  Then he threw out "Well, the brass ones sell for several hundred dollars..."  Oh boy, I thought, here we go.  So I did my dumb act and just said, "Well, I don't know much about them, I wouldn't know what to offer."  He replied, "Well, people have offered me $20."  I asked him if it worked, and he said it did with some coaxing.  "So is that what you're asking, twenty dollars?" I inquired.  "Tell you what," he began, "you can have that and the flight suit for $20."  Sold.

It weighs a *ton*.  Okay, not a ton, but about 80 pounds (I just weighed it!).

As the owner was helping me load it into our van, he told me it had been in his family's store in University City during the 40's and 50's.

I looked like it had been sitting in some water for some time, probably in a basement, and had some serious rust on the base.  It was clearly repainted, so I decided I would do a little restoration on it.

I started by removing the cash drawer.  Turning it over, I discovered a service tag dated 9/7/50:

I'm not sure if that was just for the clean & oil, or if that's when it was repainted as well.  With the drawer out, the extent of rust was visible:

I removed the black metal faceplate from the cash drawer and found this underneath:

I'm not sure what the numbers mean, but it says, St. Louis MO above them.  I love revealing something someone hasn't seen in probably 60 years or more.

I was a little intimidated by the complexity of the levers, springs and gears as I began to dig into the register.  I would have to remove the outer cover in order to repaint it and get at the mechanism inside in order to clean and oil it.  There are a lot of screws on this thing.  I began by taking a lot of pictures and taping screws with the pieces they belonged to.  All small items went in a ziplock bag.  The glass covering the amount has some chips in it and the top piece has a fairly sizable chunk missing, but it's covered by the bracket that holds it in place.

While I was taking it apart, I played around with it and finally got it operating properly.  All keys work, the numbers all rise, the bell dings, and the cash drawer pops out.  There's a tape roll that keeps a running total, but the ink in the ribbon has long since dried out.  I'm not sure if you can find a replacement for it, but I might be able to resoak the ribbon in fresh ink.  It seems complete with the exeption of a piece of white marble  which I believe is supposed to be on top of the till box.

After a couple hours and 1 drilled out screw, I finally got to this:

I used a wire brush to knock off the biggest chunks of rust in the base.  An improvement already.  I'll take a a wire wheel to it next and get the rest of it off.  I'm not sure where to begin on the cleaning.

Since the key to the register says National, and knowing the biggest manufacturer of registers was National Cash Register (NCR since the '50's when it began producing digital computers) and since the service ticket was printed by NCR, I assumed I had a National Cash Register.  There was a plate on the front that read SHA-132 and 8-10263.  I assumed this was a model and serial number.  I began searching the internet, but nothing I found looked like this one nor could I find a serial number or model number that closely resembled those on mine.  Reading through a history of NCR, I came across a small blurb that said they purchased the Remington Cash Register division of Remington Firearms around 1931 or '32 and were known for refurbishing and rebranding the old Remingtons.  Searching on Remington Cash Register, I found a model A-132 and  listing of serial numbers that helped date the register to 1923.  I read that when NCR would refurbish other brands, they would alter the model name to reflect this.  I guess that's where the additional SH in the model number comes from.

I'd like to restore it to original.  The best I could find was this picture from a sale of another:

I may go with straight black.  I'm not sure about the red pinstriping.  I wonder if you can find a Remington decal, I'd hate to have to handpaint that.

I'll post more pictures as I progress through the restoration.


  1. hmm, if you could send me a good head-on shot of that Remington part, i could possibly make it into either (1) a stencil, or perhaps we could make a laser-cut vinyl decal. i know it's not authentic, but it's an option. what a crazy find! certainly a challenging restoration, that's for sure.

  2. That shot is from a Craigslist posting and the resolution is really poor. I'm sure I can dredge up the offical logo somewhere. I'd love your assistance!

  3. Vstarvickie@live.comAugust 15, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I just found the same register at a local garage sale, minus any keys to the lock on the front. It works, but I can't get inside to get a tape into it and I'm sure my ribbon is dried up also. I think mine was sitting on a shelf in someone's barn, as the rust factor is minimum, just very well-worn. I'm excited about my find also, but would love a key for it, any ideas? will watch your restoration process as I'm a tad more timid about it.

    1. Any updates. I just acquired one. Trying to remove outercover.

    2. Jedgec, my register has been sitting primered waiting for a coat of paint for the past year. I was distracted by a few other projects, but I'm hoping to get it wrapped up when the weather gets warmer. Without looking, I thought it was just a matter of taking the screws out of the bottom. Drop me a line at and I can walk you through it.

  4. Great find and price!
    Any idea of value? We also ought one years ago...model A-132 and under this numbers 89680.
    18" h

    1. Unrestored, the register is probably only worth $75 to $100. Restored with paint schemes like Coca Cola can bring upwards of $300 to $400 on eBay.


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