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Shop Conveniences
Extracts of article from "The Century" Vol. 24 (Oct. 1882) pp. 956-958

In large retail stores where a great variety of goods are sold in one building, it has been found necessary to employ children to carry the money to the cashier and to take the goods to the packing and delivery departments. To get rid of the expense and inconvenience of having so many "cash" boys and girls in such stores, a number of inventions have been brought out, designed to act as substitutes. The most simple of these is a light iron rail suspended from the ceiling of the store over the counters. On this rail run small two-wheeled cars, each intended to carry a receptacle for money or parcels, or both. The salesman, on receiving the money for the goods, puts it in a car on the rail overhead, and it rolls by gravity down the rail to the cashier's desk...

The familiar pneumatic dispatch tube system has already been used in one store in this country [United States] for conveying the money from the various departments to the cashier's desk. Two brass tubes are arranged overhead from each counter to the cashier... The system examined did not appear to differ from the ordinary pneumatic tubes and, while it is much more rapid than the system just described, it did not offer any special advantages...

Perhaps the most complete and convenient system of carrying cash from one part of a store to another is a new one based on the simple form of tram-way used in bowling alleys to return the balls to the players. The carrier consists of a hollow wooden ball cut in halves and provided with a simple device for locking the two parts together.

On the outward track there may be, say, eightcarriers going to eight different stations. To send each carrier to its own place the balls are of different sizes, the largest ball intended for the first station, the smallest for the last... When the largest ball intended for the first station meets the guard it strikes it, and this blow releases the lock on the switch. The ball enters the switch and forces it open by its weight and drops down into the basket below. All the balls for stations beyond pass under this guard and, as the switch remains closed, they pass over it to their destination... This system has already been introduced into a large number of retail stores.