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EASON, Walter. Co-operative grocery branch organization. (Manchester: Co-operative Union, 1936) p.140. "Mechanical Cash Conveyance Systems. Several systems have been invented for conveying cash mechanically from the counter to the cash office. Amongst the first of these was the gravity cash carrying system, by which the cash was placed in hollow balls which were placed on tracks along which they rolled to the cash office. They were returned by the same means, the return tracks being arranged with the gradient falling in the opposite direction. Owing to the cumbersomeness and unattractive appearance of the tracks this system soon gave way to the 'cash railway', which was later improved upon by the introduction of the 'pneumatic tube' system and these two systems are in common use nowadays. The cash railway, or rapid wire system as it is often called, in which small carriers are forced along wires to the cash desk, being similarly returned to the salesman, is the one most generally adopted for branch purposes. Any number of cash stations may be connected to the cash office by this system, providing these are on the same level, but it is not easily adapted for centralising the cash of an establishment making use of several floors situated at different levels, a cash desk on each floor usually being required.
Under the pneumatic tube system the carriers used for cash conveyance are placed in a tube and are drawn by suction to the cash office, being returned to the salesman by a separate tube... This system requires the use of a power plant, and may be worked with gas or electricity. Because it is possible to connect all departments with the cash desk, which may be situated in any desired position, the system is a great asset to large establishments and departmental stores... The fact that the cash office can be placed in such a position as to reduce the possibility of a robbery to a minimum is also an important consideration...
In other systems the salesman is made responsible for receiving the cash from the customer, remitting it along with particulars of the purchase to the cashier, and handing the change and receipted bill or dividend check to the customer in order to complete the transaction. All these systems provide for a double check on change on behalf of the business, the cashier returning the change to the salesman, who checks it on handing it to the customer."
Photographs of Warrington Co-op
EVANS, Bill and LAWSON, A. A nation of shopkeepers. (London: Plexus, 1981). Photograph of wire system at Anscombes, Harpenden.
FISHER, Lois. Go gently through Peking: a Westener's life in China. (London: Souvenir, 1979) p.133. "While the Chinese were becoming accustomed to mechanical devices, I was fascinated by an ingenious system of payment in one small store. A cashier sat in a booth with overhead wires from different counters leading to her."
FORRESTER, Helen. Liverpool miss. (London: Harper Collins, 1982) p.24. "The whispered remarks [of shopwalkers] almost drowned by the loud rings of the containers holding payments or change, shooting along wires above their heads on their way from the counter to the cash office."
FOX, Aileen, Aileen: the life of a pioneering archaeologist. (Leominster: Graceway, 2000) p.3. See David McLean
FRASER, Amy Stewart. In memory long. (Routledge, 1977) p.111 [referring to Edinburgh] "By the time I left school, however, they were being modernised, and the overhead railways which carried bills and money from all departments to the unseen cash-office and brought back the change, had been replaced by silent fittings."
GASTER, Harold. A morning without clouds. (London: Cape, 1981) p.108 "One of the most fascinating stores to me, when I was very small, was the draper's... Their mahogany counters had a curious, cosy fug and a smell that was their own; but the thing that fascinated me was the overhead railway through which one paid one's money. The shop assistant took the money, wrapped it in the bill and then unscrewed the top of a canister. When the money and the bill were placed inside, the canister was put into a kind of catapult. The assistant pulled a handle and let go and the canister shot off at a tremendous rate along wires high above the shoppers. It whizzed along with a humming noise until it came to a set of points, as a train might, when with a click it changed course. It might do this several times before it disappeared... I longed to have such an aerial railway of my own so that I could transmit messages to my friends."
GAY, Eva. Who keep the cash. In: St Paul Daily Globe (Minneapolis edition) 2 Sept. 1888, p.9 "In many stores the evelated cash railway puts the cashier up in a box near the ceiling. A more uncomfortable place can hardly be imagined. The position is necessarily cramped and confining, and the air becomes heated to a point hardly short of suffocation. It is hardly wonderful that girls look prematurely old after a few months of such experience."
GERRARD, David. Yorkshire of one hundred years ago. (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1997) p.73 reprints the article from "Middlesborough Daily Exchange". p. 74 has a photograph of the cashier's office in the Co-operative store, Hull, with 20 pneumatic tube terminals. Source: Ken Jackson of Memory Lane, Hull.
GRAHAM, Kelly. Gone to the shops: shopping in Victorian England. (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008) p.11 "Larger shops with multiple counters needed a better way to take in cash more efficiently. One innovation was the miniature cash 'railway' system which carried the bill of sale and the money over the heads of customers to a central cash desk. Another was Lamson's Cash Ball, a patented design, which was a hollow wooden ball, which opened up to take the bill and money, and was rolled down an inclined track to the cash desk."
GRAHAM, L. Lillian Gilbreth and the mental revolution at Macy's, 1925-1928. An early time and motion study.
GRIFFITHS, John. The third man: the life and times of William Murdoch 1754-1839. (London: Deutsch, 1992) p220 "He developed the first pneumatic message system - in which a small cylinder containing a written message is impelled by compressed air through an exhausted air tube between sender and recipient. This, with very little alteration, was developed by the London Pneumatic Despatch Company and was employed in large department stores, such as Harrods, until well after World War Two."
HADFIELD, Charles and HADFIELD, Jill. Watching the dragon: letters from China 1983-85. (London: Impact, 1986) p.159 "Many shops in Shanghai have old-fashioned systems of payment. Overhead wires cross the shop, running from counters to cash till. If you are taller than the average Chinese, you frequently have to duck as bulldog clips with receipts, cash and change whizz over your head."
HAMMOND, A.Edward. Store
interior planning & display. (London: Blandford, 1939), ch.VII: Service
equipment. p.112 Pneumatic tubes. Detailed account of the central desk -
"for systems of moderate size a gravity desk is employed, while for larger
installations a belt desk is necessary." Fig. 107 shows Doggarts of Darlington
, Fig. 110 shows a double-sided central desk installed by Sturtevant Engineering
Co. Ltd for John Banner Ltd. of Sheffield and Fig. 112 shows "a small central
desk in a credit drapery store". Figs. 114 and 116 show stations in Harrods.
p.120 Catapult systems. "Still employed in .. shops with, say, three or four departments. These .. are less costly to instal and operate." Fig. 123 is a small photograph of the cash office at Moultons, Ilford.
HANCOCK, Norman. An innocent grows up. (London: Dent, 1947) p.81 "I have mentioned another sound heard in the shop when business was brisk - a deeper sound, a dull reverberation... This was produced by the rolling balls of the cash railway. Our system had been in use for some time. It consisted of an overhead railway suspended from the ceiling along which wooden balls almost the size of croquet balls trundled along to the cash-desk. There were several routes, but the main line was the one from the men's outfitting department, situated on the other side of a private passage that gave access to the domestic side of the house.
When Mr. Tomkins of the 'outfits' served a customer and required change, he unscrewed the wooden ball of the cash railway and put money and duplicate bill inside. Then, screwing the two halves of the ball together, he placed it in a small lift which was drawn up to the railway by a cord. When the lift reached the top, one of its sides fell open and the ball was tilted down a steep incline to give it the necessary momentum to roll along the line until it reached the cash-desk. Here it fell down a shoot and landed on a bell-push, which rang a buzzer to announce its arrival. Whereupon the cashier took out the money, filed the duplicate, put back the change, and the whole process was repeated in reverse."
[This is an autobiography with "nearly all names and places disguised". The shop was a retail drapery business in a small Somerset town.]
HANRAHAN, Barbara. The frangipani gardens. (St Lucia, Qld. : Univ. of Queensland Pr., 1980) p.127 "The wooden balls of the cash railway trundled backwards and forwards."
HENDRICKSON, Robert. The grand emporiums: the illustrated history of America's great department stores. (New York: Stein and Day, 1979). Bewteen pp.50 and51 there is a photograph of the Lamson cash basket system at Levy's Red Star Store, Douglas, Arizona and another of "Wires running along the top of this J.C.Penney store in about 1915 [which] were part of the Lamson cash basket system."
p.54 "Boys were usually chosen for these positions [cash children] because it was feared that all the running around, often to deserted areas of a store, might prove dangerous for a young girl... The thrifty founder of Macy's reduced the wages of his cash girls from two dollars to one dollar and a half in 1866.
p.55 The usual line of advancement in a department store was from cash boy to wrapper to salesman to assistant buyer to buyer - and a number of cash boys travelled even further along the road to become high-level management.
HILL, Frank P. Lowell illustrated (1884) "In the spring of 1881, he commenced manufacturing these carriers for others and in January 1882 incorporated the Lamson Cash Railway Company."
HISCOX, Gardner Dexter. Mechanical movements, powers, devices and appliances. (New York: Henley, 1904) p.27. "Cash carrier". Shows a diagram (left) which appears to be a Starr carrier.
HOLLINS, Peter and
ENGLAND, Steve. Memory Lane Leicester. (Derby: Breedon Books, 1997)
p.65 Photograph of cash ball system at the Beehive shop, Silver Street, being operated by Miss H.L.Grimley.
p.68 Photograph of a scene inside "a pre-war Leicester provision store in Hotel Street" with two Rapid Wire propulsions visible
HOWER, Ralph M. History of Macy's of New York, 1858-1919. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1946) p.383. "The pneumatic tubes had eliminated the cash girls" [in 1915 compared with the 1870s]
HUGHES, David. A journey to remember: an autobiography. (Beamish: County Durham, 2000). Page 20 has a photograph of a "typical grocery, 1939" with two Rapid Wire propulsions and two curves. Hughes worked in Murton Colliery Society Co-op. On page 75 he refers to Hetton Co-op where "Cash was whisked to the cashier by high speed suction tubes,"
INWOOD, Stephen. A history of London. (London: Macmillan, 1998) p.653 "In the 1880s and 1890s the more advanced shops installed electricity. Pneumatic tubes to carry cash and orders between sales floors and cashiers were introduced at about the same time."
JASPAN, Norman. Thief in the white collar. (Philadelphia: Lipincott, 1960) p. 35 "A mechanic in a large department store started tapping the pneumatic tubes which led from the sales clerks to the cashiers. He would extract the cash and slips, stamp the slips, make change when needed and then pop the container into the pneumatic tubes, returning it to the sales clerk who originally sent it."
JEHAN, Jean. A short history of the cash railway. Dragonfiles: St George's Heritage & History, vol. 4, no.2, April 2003.
JEHL, Francis. Menlo Park reminiscences. (Kessinger, 2002), p.42 "McCarty later on made many inventions, including the cash-carrier system still found in many business places."
KENNEDY, D.H. "Pneumatic tube services" in P.O. Electrical Engineers Journal, vol. 2 (Apr. 1909), pp. 26-32.
KENT, William. The testament of a Victorian youth. (Heath Cranton, 1938) p. 51 "I seldom enter a draper's shop in these days... There is one thing I miss... That thing was the cash-railway by which the assistant packed the bill and the money in a wooden ball, and sent it up a spiral to an overhead track, whence it travelled across the shop and dropped off the rails on to the cashier's desk. I could have watched for many half-hours than I did the dozens of balls whizzing along the rails from all parts of the shop, never falling off even when crossing the points, but arriving patly at the station of the cashier. And then making the return journey and dropping your change into the hands of the assistant who had served you."
KESTER, Roy Bernard. Accounting theory and practice, vol.3 (New York: Ronald, 1921) p.399 "Where cash registers are not in use, the money received by each salesperson is transmitted to a central cashier by means of pneumatic tubes or in little overhead metal carriers ."
KNAPP, J.W. Store management and business organization. (New York: Alexander Hamilton Inst., 1927) p.78 "The pneumatic tube system, in which carriers containing the sales check and money are shot to a central tube room or cashier, by a current of air at low pressure, is a development of the cable carrier system used so widely in the past. The centralized control of cash secured by the tube system is assuredly a great improvement over the methods used before. One feature rarely mentioned is the saving in the amount of cash which the store must keep on hand for change purposes... In spite of these advantages, the tube system is losing ground to the cash register, although large department stores still find both systems necessary."
LAMB, Jim and WARREN, Steve. The people's store:
a guide to the North Eastern Co-op's family tree. (Gateshead: North Eastern
Co-op, ca. 1998)
p.53 "A typical Co-op grocery interior of 1911." Shows two stations of a cash ball system.
p.47 "Co-operative shopping in the pre-self service days". Shows three Gipe(?) propulsions.
p.60 "A 1911 Co-operative greengrocery shop." Shows a Rapid Wire propulsion.
p.95 "Interior of one of the Society's grocery stores." Shows Rapid Wire propulsions.
LAMSON COMPANY Publications
LANCASTER, Bill. The department store: a social history. (London: Leicester University Press, 1995). Page 49 has photographs of the cashier's office and a terminal station of a large pneumatic tube system - store not specified.
LANE, Rose Wilder. Give me liberty. (New York: Longman, 1936) "In America, commercial decrees did not hamper every clerk and customer, as they did in France, so that an extra half-hour was consumed on every department-store purchase. French merchants are as intelligent as American, but they could not install vacuum tubes and a swift accounting system in a central cashier's department. What is the use? they asked you. They would still be obliged to have every purchase recorded in writing in a leger, in the presence of both buyer and seller, as Napoleon decreed."
LEFÈVRE, Julien. Dictionnaire de l'industrie: matieres premières, machines et appareils, méthodes de fabrication. (Paris: Ballière, 1899) p.851. "Les transporteurs de monnaie ou cash-carriers sont très employés dans le... L'un des plus simples est le transporteur Gipe."
LEMELSON CENTER, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Two video recordings of Lamson wire system at Lowns Department Store, Penn Yan, N.Y. 1995. Features an extensive interview with the former owner and operator, Jim Kerbull.
LEONARD, R.L. and GLASSGOLD, C.A. American art deco: an illustrated survey. (Courier Dover, 2004) p.12. "The store architect .. knows the relation between the different departments and the Lamson tube system."
Lewes remembers: shops and shopping. (Lewes: Lewes U3A Publications). Three Lewes shops remembered on pages 59 and 83.
LEWIS, Thomas (ed.) Modern retailing:
stepping-stones to success in shopkeeping. (London: Caxton, 1949) Vol. III,
p.31. "The use of cash railways is probably diminshing, but many smaller
firms continue to employ them, and some of the larger stores make use of them
as relief measures in exceptionally busy departments at peak periods of trade,
such as during the Christmas season."
p. 32. "Modern store buildings almost invariably provide for pneumatic-tube equipment."
p. 33. "Even in the largest buildings, the travel time of a carrier from the farthest station to the tube room is rarely more than twenty seconds and, as it has been proved that young cashiers.. can handle four to six transactions a minute, change should normally be returned to the department within one minute."
Three photographs of tube rooms, showing incoming and outgoing tubes, and one of a sales point.
LIFFEN, John. The development of cash handling systems for shops and department stores. In: Transactions of the Newcomen Society, vol. 71, no. 1, 1999-2000, pp. 79-101. The theme is centralised vs. decentralised registration of purchases. The majority of the article is concerned with cash carriers. It draws on a large number of original sources, especially patents and company documents.
LOVETT, Vivien. Kennards of Croydon: the store that entertained to sell. A history of a Debenhams store. (The Author, 2000). Photographs of the automatic central desk, the dispatch section ca. late 1920s, and the foreign fancy department with Lamson tubes in 1923.
LOWERY, George H. Louisiana birds. (Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1955) p.442. "It is suggestive of the clicking sounds heard in department stores that have an overhead conveyor system for carrying money to the cashier and bringing back change in small metal containers. If one happens to be standing in the middle of the store, the metallic sounds made by one of the ..."
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