Cash register dating to 1913 is common, worth $200-$300

CURIOUS COLLECTOR

November 07, 1993|By Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen | Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen,Contributing Writers Solis-Cohen Enterprises

Q: When my husband sold his business, he brought home an old nickel-plated hotel cash register, model 442-E, by National Cash Register Co., of Dayton, Ohio. Although designed to operate electrically, it now works only by a hand crank. Among its keys are ones marked for cigars, rooms and wine. The last patent date on it is 1912. Is it rare and collectible?

Q: Your circa 1913 cash register is a common one, worth around $200 to $300 in its present condition, according to collector Hayne Dominick, 562 Gammon Road, Colonial Heights, Tenn. 37663, (615) 323-9579.

The cash register was invented around 1876 by James Ritty, of Dayton, Ohio, whose company eventually became National Cash Register. The earliest models generally were wooden devices to record sales, but didn't hold cash. According to dealer Sam Robins, the heyday of cash register design was the "brass era," from 1890 to 1920, which he and co-author Richard Crandall profile in "The Incorruptible Cashier, Vol. II," (softcover $43 postpaid from Robins, Play It Again Sam's Inc., 5310 West Devon, Chicago, Ill. 60646, [312] 763-1771), an informative illustrated history of cash registers. Mr. Robins also publishes a price guide which costs $5 postpaid.

Q: At France's Madoura Pottery, in 1967, I purchased a tall single-handle vase designed by Pablo Picasso, decorated in sepia and black with the image of a woman's face. It's impressed "Edition Picasso" and stamped "Madoura" on the bottom. How valuable is it?

A: From 1947 to 1971, famed artist Pablo Picasso created decorative ceramics for the Madoura Pottery, of Valouris, France. Many, like your vase, were made in limited editions produced over several years. Yours, from an edition of 500 begun in 1955, is worth around $2,000 to $3,000 in good condition, according to dealer James Balla, of Universal Fine Objects Gallery, 424 Commercial St., Provincetown, Mass. 02657, (508) 487-4424.

Q: Is my chrome cocktail set from around 1939 valuable? It includes a handled and spouted shaker standing around 15 inches high, and six stemmed goblets.

A: Your generic chrome cocktail set is worth around $38 in good condition, according to vintage cocktail shaker collector Stephen Visakay, P.O. Box 1517, West Caldwell, N.J. 07007. Its design is typical of mass-produced post-Prohibition shakers fashioned from high-tech materials of the day. Chrome, which doesn't tarnish, was promoted widely by "Machine Age" manufacturers to replace costlier sterling silver and silver-plated household objects, including cocktail shakers.

The most expensive and sought-after chrome cocktail shakers generally date from the 1930s and were made and marked by leading firms such as Chase Brass and Copper Co., of Waterbury, Conn., Revere Brass and Copper Co., and Wallace Bros. Ones created by important industrial designers including Water von Nessen, Russel Wright, and Norman Bel Geddes command premium prices, as do streamlined or skyscraper-shaped models, and those resembling penguins, roosters or zeppelins.

Mr. Visakay contributed a chapter about cocktail shakers and their pricing to "Art Deco Identification and Price Guide, 2nd Ed.," by Tony Fusco, ($16, Avon Books).

Have a question about an antique or collectible? Write to the Solis-Cohens, P.O. Box 304, Flourtown, Pa. 19031-0304, enclosing a clear photo of the whole object and all marks. Photos can't be returned. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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