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Fiction, films, cartoons, etc.

ADE, G. In Babel: stories of Chicago. (New York: McClure Phillips, 1903), p.18. "He [Markley] had thought out an overhead cash-carrier of the kind used in retail stores."

AIRD, Catherine. Harm's way. (Garden City NY: Knopf Doubleday, 1984), p.126. "It should go down well with the owner of the last emporium in the town to have had an overhead cash railway. Sloane could still remember the fascination with which he had watched the little brass cylinder with his mother's money in it travel to the lady cashier in her perch in the middle of the shop and back with the receipt and the change."

ALLIN, Linda. Daddy's girl. (Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2005), p.43. "It was one of those old-fashioned stores .. Wooden floors, dark showcases and metal cash capsules that whirred on overhead wires to the cashier, who sat in the middle of the sales floor."

BANVILLE, John. Mefisto. (Godine, 1999) p.91 "The wooden cylinders on the overhead cables whizzed back and forth from the cash office."

BATES, Ralph. Lean men: an episode in a life. (London: Davies, 1935) p.350. "A cluster of sparrows whirled over like the cash railway at the Century Stores in the Rambla."

Beesweb - the official site of Richard Thompson. "The dry, thick smell of haberdashery and clothing, and the faint whiff of friction from the centralized cash system, with its vacuum tubes and overhead cables." Beesweb

The Big Store, Marx Brothers film directed by Charles Riesner, 1941. Harpo Marx descends from a gallery on a tray-shaped carrier running on four wires. This is obviously not a cash carrier but it may have been inspired by one.

BIGGLE, Lloyd. Byways to evil: a Lady Sara Varnley Victorian mystery. (Wildside Press, 2013) p.123. "The overwhelming attraction in the draper's shop was the cash railway or overhead change carrier. The assistant packed bill and cash into a wooden ball and sent it spiraling up to an overhead track." [Spiralling is not a very accurate description.]

BRAILSFORD, Henry Noel. The broom of the war-god: a novel. (Heinemann, 1898) p.137. "'Queer noise, ain't it though? It's like an over'ead cash railway in a draiper's shop', said Simson."

Brazil, film directed by Terry Gilliam, 1985. (Not a shop system.) Sam Lowry, played by Jonathan Pryce, works in the Ministry of Information. An 'in' and 'out' tube sit side-by-side next to his desk. He decides to sabotage the pneumatic tube system by stuffing outgoing carriers with wads of paper and plugging up the tubes which bulge and then explode.(Filmsite)

Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley, 2015. Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn, N.Y. around 1951-2 and gets a job as sales assistant in a department store. She operates a pneumatic tube terminal bearing the name ADANAC in three scenes - though there is obviously no vacuum. (Adanac is a Canadian manufacturer of pneumatic tube equipment though I have never come across examples in shops.)

BURGESS, Gelett. A little sister of destiny. (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1906), p.74 "Through all this confusion was woven, like a spider's web, a radial system of wires, converging at the cashier's window. Along these airy tracks the carriers sped, to stop with a snap above the cashier's head, waiting for her to make change and shoot them back."

Butcher Boy starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Buster Keaton (1917) . "The Butcher Boy is set in a village store, with all the predictable vaudeville-slapstick-cameo-strip gags about the pretty cashier, the irascible old proprietor, the overhead cash railway, the difficult customers." David Robinson. Buster Keaton (Indiana University Press, 1969) p. 28

CHAVE, Louise. Harvest of hope. (Xlibris, 2000), p.66. "It was fascinating to watch a sales clerk put his payment in a little box with the sales slip before sending it scooting up and onto an overhead cable to a balcony. There a clerk emptied the contents, inserted the correct change and sent it back to the sales clerk."

Chity Chity Bang Bang, directed by Ken Hughes, 1968. Rapid Wire system carrier appears when Grandpa meets the six inventors.

Cluefinders: the incredible toy store adventure. "A rat chases the shrunken Cluefinders inside pneumatic tubes." (Computing with Kids) - not clear whether these tubes were intended for carrying cash.

COHEN, Julie. One night stand. (London: Little Black Dress, 2007), p.175. "I wasn't sure how old Jackson's was but I did know it was the only large shop in Reading that wasn't a chain. It inhabited a corner (known as Jackson's Corner) between the library and Market Square... Jackson's departments were laid out on different levels... I visited Men's Fashion, made my purchases, admired the system of overhead tubes that delivered my change."

Daily Chronicle, 18 July 1924. "Paying at the desk". Cartoon strip bemoaning the demise of the Cash Ball system in the name of "progress".

DOIG, Ivan. Bucking the sun. (Simon & Schuster, 1997) p.27 "She yanked the dispatch cord and the canister whizzed up to the balcony office where priscilla or Janie would make change."

DONOVAN, Frances R. The saleslady. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1929). p.21 "She [the trainer] tells us in detail when to send the money to the cashier in a gray carrier, when in a red or blue one, which form to put into the carrier." p. 24 "My first sale completed, I make out the check, tear off the triplicate .. and, as it is a 'Cash taken', send it merrily up the compressed air shute in a gray carrier."

Endeavour (prequel to Inspector Morse) - episode shown on ITV, 13 April 2014. Some scenes were filmed in Jacksons of Reading shortly before it closed and showed pneumatic tube carriers and a Pneu Art terminal. Reading Chronicle 11/12/13

Experiment perilous. "There was a very fine sequence.. that was cut out: it took place in a department store, with the old baskets with the wires for delivering money. It showed Hedy Lamarr followed by a detective." Jacques Tourneur: The cinema of nightfall, by Chris Fujiwara (Jefferson NC: McFarland, 1988)

Firebird, ed. Robin Robertson. vol.3. (Penguin, 1984) p.12 "The wooden cylinders on the overhead cables whizzed back and forth from the cash office."

Floorwalker. Charlie Chaplin film, 1916. Set in a department store with cash office on the mezzanine. Two lines with cash baskets. Chaplin operates one in a stunt with a top hat.

FORRESTER, Helen. The lemon tree. (Fontana, 1990) p.343 "The assistant pushed Wallace Helena's soverigns into a little brass tube, screwed it into a container hanging above her head, pulled a handle and, to Wallace Helena's delight, the whole contraption shot across the store, to be fielded by a prim gentleman seated in a tiny glass-enclosed office, her change came back the same way." [Set in Liverpool.]

FREDERICK, Justus George. Breezy: a story of advertising's coming of age. (Garden City: Doubleday, Page, 1909) p.8. "The noise of the overhead cash system.. all these had become to Breezy the breath of life."

FREEMAN, Gillian. The marriage machine: a novel. (London: Hamilton, 1975) p.36 "Harvey's .. was even then an old-fashioned department store with a pulley system for dealing with the cashier... We would watch her fascinated as she inserted them [her finger-nails] into the crevices between the brass cylinders which shot along the overhead wires into her booth, and then, having prised the two halves apart, would manage to keep her nails clear of the whole business of working the till and wrapping up the change in a Harvey's pale green receipt. "

From dawn to sunset. Film produced by the Handy (Jam) Organization and sponsored by Chevrolet Division, General Motors Corp., 1937. The film depicts a day in the life of Chevrolet workers in the US. One scene is of change being made in a department store office and returned by an Air-Line system. Internet Archive

FURNIVALL, Kate. The Russian concubine. (London: Sphere, 2007), p.149 "She pushed open the glass doors of Churston Department Store... Above their heads small wooden canisters whizzed across the room on wires, carrying cash and receipts to and from the little cage in the corner."

GOLDBERG, Myra. Wickett's Remedy: a novel. (Doubleday, 2005) . "Even after four years, she thrilled at sealing a customer's payment into a pneumatic capsule and sending it to the cashier for change. Miles and miles of pneumatic tubing crisscrossed Gilchrist's walls and ceilings. Capsules left Men's Furnishings on a current of compressed air to travel over Silks and Velvets, over Embroideries and Trimmings, past Veilings, and past Black and Colored Dress Goods. Lydia pictured her customers' sales slips speeding past countergirls whispering among themselves in Millinery, past the solitary salesgirl at Umbrellas who every day prayed for rain.
Lydia once visited the Cashier's Office just to see the veritable pipe organ of commerce where each capsule arrived with a thunk, its contents scrutinized by a woman whose hands must have smelled always of money. Lydia wondered if the woman scrubbed the scent from her skin at night, or if her dreams glimmered with visions of wealth. Whenever Lydia retrieved the returning capsules containing a customer's correct change, she felt the cold, dry breath of the pneumatic tube on the back of her hand. On slow days she listened to the exhalations of the tubes behind her counter. After four years, she still marveled at the notion that money pumped through the store no less fervently than blood through her own veins."

GOLDING, William. Darkness visible. (London: Faber, 1979) p.39. "Frankley's was an ironmonger's of character. After the convulsion of the First World War the place grew a spider's web of wires along which money trundled in small, wooden jars. For people of all ages, from babies to pensioners, this was entrancing. Some assistant would fire the jar - clang! - from his counter and when the flying jar reached the till it would ring a bell - Dong! So the cashier would reach up, unscrew the jar, take out the money and inspect the bill, put in the change and fire the jar back - Clang! ... Clang! All this took a great deal of time but was full of interest, like playing with model trains.
But the use of the overhead railway had done two things. First it had accustomed the staff t moderate stillness and tranquility; and second, it had so habituated them to the overhead method of money sending that when one of these ancient gentlemen was offered a banknote he immediately gestured upwards with it as if to examine the watermark."

GRENVILLE, Kate. Dark places. (ReadHowYouWant.com, 2011) p.275. "Everyone .. greeted with applause the various achievements of Singer Enterprises over the year: .. the installation of the Pneumatic Cash Railway."

Grocery Clerk. Larry Semon. "He's running the store alone, so he has to send off the basket, then race ahead to meet it." (Posting to alt.movies.silent newsgroup, 3 Apr. 2004)

Gymnasium Jim, Max Sennett film directed by Roy del Ruth, 1922. Jack Cooper's top hat lowers and rises like a drawbridge every time the basket whizzes over his head. (Brent Walker, posting to alt.movies.silent, 5 Apr. 2004)

Half a Sixpence. Musical comedy based on H.G.Wells's novel "Kipps". Film adaptation directed by George Sidney, 1967, shows a Rapid Wire system being used in the draper's shop where Kipps is working.

The History of Mr Polly, film of the H.G.Wells book directed by Anthony Pelissier, 1949. At the start Polly, played by John Mills, is dismissed from his post in a department store with several views of a Rapid Wire system being used.

HOWELL, John Wingspread. Naked in church: a novel (New York: Writers Club, 2003) p.17. "Harrington owned the town's only department store, though Harrington Dry Goods was les than half the size of the Wal-Mart... He planned to restore the vintage character of his antiquated store (keeping the pneumatic tubes that had been used continuously since the store's opening in the last century, for instance)."

HUDSON, Lois Phillips. Bones of plenty. (Little, Brown, 1962) p.52. "He flinched as one of the little change carriers whizzed over his head, so close that he could feel its breeze parting his hair. A damned store for women... Vick shouted above the noise of the little cash carriers coming home."

JAKES, John. Homeland. (Doubleday, 1993) p.950 "She put his money and the sales slip into a metal basket, hooked the basket on an overhead wire, and yanked a bell cord hanging from the ceiling."

'JAZZ'. A sealed book: for the discreet gentleman's study. (Victoria, BC: Trafford, 2001) p.117. "He quickly stuffed the notes and the bill into the little brown wooden cash cup... Then he deftly screwed the cup into the overhead pulley, jerked down the handle and sent the money whizzing along the maze of wires strung across the ceiling and through the thick black bars of the cashier's dock in the centre of the store. A minute or two later the wooden cup came whizzing back, he unscrewed it and handed Marjorie her change."

KAMINSKI, Gerald. Wooden nickels. (Coveview Press, 1993) p.6 "She could never take anything but the most childlike delight in the still operative cashier system. A web of wires from the various sales counters all led up to the accounting office on a small balcony at the rear of the store. Spring catapulted money flasks were zinged ion trolleys up the wires to the central cashier, who made change or recorded the transaction." Ibid. p.7 "He grasped the wooded [sic] handle on the launch cord... After a firm tug on the cord, the catapult spring zinged the trolley up to the cashier. Up on the balcony, the cashier fumbled about for a while. Finally the trolley skittered back down the wire and thunked to a halt."

KELLAND, Clarence Budington. Scattergood Baines (New York: Harper, 1921) p.258. "Jason Locker, who was Sam Kettleman's rival in Coldriver's grocery industry, was a trifle too amenable to modern ideas at times... He installed a perfectly unnecessary cash carrier from the counter to a desk where Mrs Locker made change."

Kind hearts and coronets, film directed by Robert Hammer. Ealing Studios, 1949. Due to family circumstances, Louis Mazzini (played by Dennis Price) has to take a job in a draper's shop and is seen using a wire system. He then moves up to a larger establishment fitted with pneumatic tubes.

LARRABEE, Kathryn. An everyday savior. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. ch.1 "The store is a tourist attraction; I took Sonia there to show her the pulley system used to make change, the small wooden cups speeding across the ceiling to a central cage with a cashier, then speeding back to the salesperson at the counter." Based on Lowns, Penn Yan.

LEWIS, Ann. Christmas shopping in Ceridwen Street in Best of British, Dec. 2006, pp.32-33. "On the rare occasions when I' d visited the shop with Mum, I'd watched fascinated as the assistant took money from the customer and folding the notes, placed them inside a small round wooden container. This would then be secured with a screw top, and clipped to a metal contraption just above his head. A sharp tug on the pull-cord would send the thing whizzing across to the other side of the shop to the cashier, whereupon minutes later it would return with the right change." [Described as W. Prosser, Gents Outfitters, Ceridwen High Street.]

Life with father, film directed by Michael Curtiz, 1947. Vinnie Day (Irene Dunne) goes on a spending spree to James McCreery & Co. in New York with her four sons. There is a good view of the ornate wooden balcony with wire carriers arriving and being despatched. Wires, carriers and a propulsion (?Air-Line) can be seen and heard as they walk around the store. The propulsion appears to be mounted on the counter. One of the sons asks if he can work the propulsion and the sales clerk says "It's against the rules."

The Longest night, film directed by Errol Taggart, produced by Lucien Hubbard and Samuel Marx. MGM, 1936. Eve (played by Julie Haydon)and Mr Grover [employees in a store] disappear, then the watch and a tack from the furniture department come in the pneumatic tubes and Joan realises they are a message from Eve.

Love nest on wheels, film with Buster Keaton. Features a Rapid Wire system.

The Magic Box, film directed by John Boulting for the Festival of Britain, 1951. Starred Robert Donat as William Friese-Greene, British pioneer of the cinema. His second wife works in the glove department of a department store where there is a Lamson Rapid Wire system.

MATTHEW, Christopher. A nightingale sang in Fernhurst Road: a schoolboy's journal of 1945. (London:Murray, 1998). p.26 "Afterwards we went to the Co-op. I like going there because when you pay, they put the money into a special little can which they attach to a wire on the ceiling and then they pull a wooden handle on the end of a chain and the can goes flying across the ceiling on the wire to the lady in the cashier's desk...Mummy says it's an example of modern science and reckons that one day all shops will have it." Set in Oxted, Surrey

MORLEY, Christopher. Where the blue begins. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1922) ch. 6 "He heard the soft sigh of the pneumatic tubes as they received money and blew it to some distant coffer."

MUSSON, Bennet. Cupid and the cash carrier. Newark [Ohio] Daily Advocate, 7 Nov. 1903, p.2. A romance conducted with the help of a cable (?) carrier. "Through the great dry goods house of Chase, Remington, Bentley & Co. ranged the usual throng of shoppers... [Mr Remington's] handsome son concluded negotiations with the woman, took a bill from her and, inclosing it in a little nickel plated case, placed it in the receptacle of the cash carrier. He pulled a cord, and the box shot up till it reached the narrow lines of metal, whence it was whisked with business-like precision to the eyrie of the cashier... Presently the nickel plated case shot back over the carrier and dropped with an assertive click into its receptacle... Rimmington senior .. witheld a small piece of folded white paper... Written across it in hastily formed characters were the words: 'It is an age till tomorrow night, dearest!'"

NOBBS, David. The complete Pratt. (Random House, 2001), p.191. "'I used to be absolutely fascinated by the thing they had that whizzed the change around on wires.' 'The Lamson Overhead Cash System,' said Hilary."

NOBBS, David. Going gently. (London: Heinemann, 2000), p.15 "Jones and Jones was a wonderful shop, a four-storey palace where the change whizzed around on overhead wires." Set in Swansea.

ORWELL, George. Coming up for air. Part II, ch.7 [Referring to Lilywhites, the drapers]. "You know the atmosphere of a draper's shop... A faint whirring from the wooden balls of change rolling to and fro."

Paddington, film directed by Paul King, 2014. Items are retrieved from the Royal Geographical Society's archive by a fantastic pneumatic tube system. (Not a cash system.)

" The People's Friend, no. 950, ready Monday, March 12, 1888, contains - Annie Drummond - Story of the Cash railway." Aberdeen People's Journal, 10 Mar. 1888, p.8. [I haven't seen this so don't know if it's actually fiction.]

PRATCHETT, Terry. Hogfather. A Discworld novel. (London: Gollancz, 1996), p.87 "So that the staff would not be Tempted, Mr Crumley had set up an arrangement of overhead wires across the ceilings of the store. In the middle of each floor was a cashier in a little cage. Staff took money from customers, put it in a little clockwork cable car, sent it whizzing overhead to the cashier, who'd make change and start it rattling back again. Thus there was no possibility of Temptation, and the little trolleys were shooting back and forth like fireworks."

ROWLAND, Marcus L. The clockwork heart. 2002 [role-playing game]. "Lewis Henderson owns Henderson's Emporium, a large department store in Oxford Street... This store is a magical place to any child.. and the infrastructure of pneumatic tubes (used to move papers, bank notes, cheques and receipts around the store).. is endlessly fascinating."

Scribner's Magazine, 1939, p.738 "Little Mary Neland leaned down from her elevated cash-carrier station back of the silk-counter." Ibid, p.743 "Mary Neland was released from weary attendance on the pneumatic cash-carrier."

STOPPARD, Tom. On the razzle. (London: Faber and Faber, 1981), p.11 "Zangler's shop ... Marie is the cashier in a gilded cage. Old-fashioned spring-loaded canisters travel on wires between the cage and the counters."
p.12 ZANGLER: I'm damned sure they're sending messages to each other but I can't work out how they're doing it. (Zing! In the shop - now closed - a cash-canister zings along the wire to Marie in her gilded cage.) ... Sonders, half hidden has sent the canister.
p.75, ZANGLER: Every modern convenience - a spring-loaded cash flow to knock your eye out and your hat off! (He demonstrates the cash canister machine, which knocks Sonder's hat off.)

SYLVAINE, Vernon. Madame Louise: a farce in three acts. (London: Charles Fox, [1946]). [Set in the Madame Louise Gown Shop, well off Bond Street.] Stage directions for Act 1: "Above the desk-table is an old-fashioned cash-change arrangement - with not more than ten feet of runway". Page 15: "MOULD. That, Mr Trout, is the cash change expediter... We're one of the few remaining London houses still retaining a cash expediter."

TANNER, Janet. The black mountains. (Pan Macmillan, 2012). "The Co-op Grocery was an impressive shop... From each service point, overhead cash railways whisked away both money and a little paper 'check'... It also had an added refinement in that it could cater .. for cash spent upstairs in the furniture shop." Ibid. "She caught sight of a youth climbing on to the counter and reaching up to swing on the overhead cash railway... He backed away from her threshing broom, and still holding on to the wire railway and its pulley, he fell backwards to the floor... Slowly the cash railway separated itself from the ceiling."

TANNER, Janet. The emerald valley. (Pan Macmillan, 2012). "The cash railway was similar to the one Charlotte had loved - and seen wrecked - when she had worked in the County Stores during the Great War... It had an added refinement in that it could cater, by means of something like a miniscule dumb waiter, for cash spent upstairs."

THOMAS, Dylan. Under Milk Wood. (London: Dent, 1954), p. 6. Mr Edwards: "I am a draper mad with love... I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires."

TRACY, Honor. Men at work: a novel. (Random House, 1967) p.188 "'What about our aerial cash conveyor? Eh?' 'I did not say that we were old-fashioned, Father. I said that this American lady might conceivably think us so."

TREVANIAN. Hot night in the city. (St Martin's Press, 2000). "She described her work at JC Penney's where Weaver Overhead Cash Carriers zinged on wires, bringing money and sales slips up to a central nest suspended from the ceiling, and the change came zinging back down to clerks whom the company didn't trust to handle money. She worked up in the cashier's cage, making change and zinging it back down. ...'but most of the stores have modernized and gotten rid of their cash carriers.'" [Weaver may be the inventor in US Patent no. 465,668, 1891.]

TUCKER, Fender. Totah six-pack. (Lulu.com, 2008), p.162 "She pulled a lanyard and the small gondola-like cup whizzed up the wire... Just then the gondola came whizzing back with the receipt and change. She handed them to Fender and said, "You know, you're one of the last customers to get your change from these things. Next week Penney's is switching over to a new, electrical system with cash registers on every pay counter. I kind of hate to see the wires go."

TV comedy show (or perhaps a film) in late 1950s/early 1960s. Graham Stark in drag was playing a shop cashier and someone put a bomb in the cash ball, which blew the shop up. Giles Barnabe

Tweety and Sylvester cartoon. Set in department store. "The two of them were chasing each other through the store's pneumatic tube setup." Posting to rec.arts.sf.science newsgroup, 12 Nov. 2001

UPFIELD, Arthur W. The bachelors of Broken hill. (Scribner, 1984), p.35. "The girl accepted the money as though a gift to herelf, and raced it along the overhead wire to the cashier."

WAGNER. Geoffrey. Red calypso: the Grenadian revolution and its aftermath. (Washington DC: Regnery, 1988) p.14. "There was one emporium full of bolts of cloth called Everybody's, where change for your purchase was run to the cashier on overhead wires."

WELLS, H.G. Kipps: the story of a simple soul.(London: Macmillan, 1905) Book 1, ii. "Shalford withdrew a hand from beneath his coat-tails to indicate an overhead change carrier. He entered into elablorate calculations to show how many minutes in one year were saved thereby." [H.G.Wells was apprenticed to Edwin Hide's Drapery Emporium at Southsea, which is slightly disguised as Edwin Shalford's Drapery Bazaar at Folkestone in 'Kipps' - Mrs Proctor.] Also film of Kipps, 1941, with wire system.

WHITLOCK, Brand. The turn of the balance. (London: Alston Rivers, 1907), p.175. "There the enormous department store of James E. Bills and Company occupied an entire building of five stories high... Many of the women in the store .. spoke in high ugly voices; the noise of their haggling .. added to the din made by the little metal money-boxes that whizzed by on overhead wires."

Wilf's thrilling ride on a "cash-carrier". [Cartoon strip]. Daily Mirror, 3 May 1927, p.11

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