THE CASH RAILWAY WEBSITE
|Home||Manufacturers||Cash Balls||Wire systems||Pneumatic systems||Locations||References||Patents|
ABBOTT, May. Cashing in down Memory Lane. In: Daily Telegraph, 30 Dec. 1971. The Rapid Wire system was still being leased at only £10 a year by 35 drapers' shops in Britain. Describes Manns drapery shop in Littlehampton. Change of one farthing could be sent as a stip of pink paper stuck with pins.
ABELSON, Elaine S. When ladies go a-thieving: middle-class shoplifters in the Victorian department store. (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1989), p.249. "The Lamson Cash Carrier Patent was issued in April, 1881. The first installation was probably in Jordan Marsh (Boston) ca. 1880. For pneumatic tubes see "Macy Study", Carton 3, Macy Collection.
ADDAMS, Jane. Hull House maps and papers. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1895). ch.3, pp 49-76, Wage earning children. Describes how in Chicago between 6.30 and 7.30 am there were 'processions of puny children filing into the dry-goods emporiums to run, during 9 or 10 hours, and in holiday seasons 12 and 13 hours a day to the cry "Cash!"... Fortunately the development of the pneumatic tube has begun to supersede the cash-children in the more respectable of the retail stores."
Aerofiles website. "During WW2, lightplanes rigged with an overhead hook could 'land' by snagging a sling hung from a long cable and roll to a braked halt like a department store change baskets [sic] of yore."
AIREY, A. and J. The Bainbridges of Newcastle: a family history 1679-1976. (Newcastle-on-Tyne: A. & J. Airey, 1979) , p.114. "Several trade journals carried articles on Bainbridge & Co. in the late 1880s. They were impressed by the system of 'Ariel Messengers' invented and patented by a member of the staff. This new way of carrying cash .. by way of pneumatic tubes... was worked by condensed [sic] air and was operated by a 6 horse power 'Otto' gas engine [which also drove other machinery]."
ADBURGHAM, Alison. Shops and shopping 1800-1914. 2nd ed. (London: Allen and Unwin, 1981). Page 201: compares Cash Balls to an Easter egg and wire systems to a Swiss mountain railway. Page 234: Most drapers' shops and department stores used Lamson's overhead railways but Charles Digby Harrod would not install them - he put a PAY AT THE DESK notice on every counter. Page 239: When John Barnes store opened on 29 March 1900, it was one of the first in London to have Lamson Pneumatic Tubes. The other three were Bon Marché in Brixton, Robinson & Cleaver in Regent Street and Roberts in Stratford. Harrods installed them very soon after.
AMERICAN PNEUMATIC SERVICE COMPANY. The story of a service idea: a history of the origin and development of the American Pneumatic Service Company. (Boston: The Company, 1912). 85 p A history covering the Ball System, Wire Line carriers, the Lamson cable system, Lamson pneumatic tubes and "special conveyors". The relationship between the company and Lamsons is not explained but it deals entirely with Lamson equipment.
ANDERSON, Victor Vance.
Psychiatry in industry. (New York: Harper, 1929) p146. "The cashier
is paid ten cents for each error or omission she finds on a sales check. She
is also paid a bonus for all the carriers she can handle above the standard
p.148 [quoting instructions to cashiers] "Being a cashier at -- means making change in a tube room away from the selling floor. The carriers with the money and check drop from a tube at the front of the room on the moving belt, which brings them to you...
Each carrier is alike in one thing - each carrier means a customer waiting, and therefore means that the cashier must work very quickly in order to make that wait as short as possible. The cashier must work carefully, too, for she is responsible for all the mistakes she makes and all the money she handles.
The cashier works in a tube room with about thirty other girls. The job does not always seem the same because there are rush periods and slack ones. The desks are arranged in rows and seats are changed every day. As the carrier comes along the moving belt, the cashier picks it up. Then she twists it open and pulls out the money and the sales check. Then there is marking, tearing and stamping to do. After that the change is counted very quickly. At first the noise of the tube room is troublesome, but the cashier soon becomes accostomed to this.
Your salary will be increased whenever you are able to do more work. In addition you will be given extra money whenever you handle an extra number of carriers or detect errors on sales checks. You will have the opportunity to fit yourself for better jobs in the store and can work up to them in time."
[Comment] "The illustration given above is only one example of several dozen which have been worked out and are now in daily use."
p.149. "Days were spent in the tube room watching the cashiers at work."
p.338 Describes a 'till test' - an imitation of the tube-room situation.
APPLETON's annual cyclopædia and register of important events of the year. (Appleton, ?1900) p. 95 "Carriers used in store-service naturally divide themselves into two classes - cash-carriers, which are intended merely to expedite the making of change, and parcel-carriers, which do double duty."
p. 97. " The best ball-carrier systems, as used at present, are either modifications of the divergent track, or use a parallel track with automatically-opening switches or traps."
p. 99. "In the exhaust or vacuum systems the air is drawn from the tube in front of the carrier, and the motive force is derived from the natural atmospheric pressure... [In] large establishments a central air-compressor is worked by machinery, and no foot-power is required, the compressed air being furnished from a central receiver, and turned on by salesmen or cashier as required at each station.
Cash and parcel carriers are generally rented out to merchants at so much a station, the price ranging from $15 to $30 per annum."
ASHLEY, E.E. Mechanical
equipment of the department store. In: Architectural Forum vol. 50, no. 6, June
1929, pp.921-934. "The pneumatic tube system requires the installation
of tubes to the various departments and counters. These terminate in a central
station, which is divided into two parts, - one for handling cash transactions
and the other for credit authorization. Sometimes the credit section of the
desk is placed at a distance from the cash section. That is, it may be in the
credit department, which is placed on an upper floor of the building. Generally,
for the most rapid service, the cash desk is located on the basement floor or
as near the first floor as possible to minimize the travel of the carriers from
the first floor stations. There are many points in favor of this system: that
of central control of all cash; silent authorization; and the saving in the
work of cashiers. There is also the fact that with tubes there are many other
services to which they can be put, - for orders and messenger service. In some
stores there is a combination system, using the tube system throughout and supplementing
it with cash registers convenient for the very active sections in the under-priced
shops and first floors."
Photographs of the tube rooms in Davison-Paxon Co. and Halle Brothers, Cleveland.
ATKINSON, J. Brooks. Skyline promenades: a potpourri (New York: Knopf, 1925) p.108. "In New England villages ... thrice blessed is that store where nickel-plated scales and noisy cash-registers, and even that symbol of breathless hurry, the cash-carrier, attest to enterprise if not necessarily to utility. What conscious pride the clerk takes in demonstrating his skill with these engines of efficiency, as if he, too, had caught the city manner and must be reckoned as one of the elect!"
BAILEY, Anthony. England, first & last. (New York: Viking, 1985) p.47 "The money was handed over and wrapped in an invoice, placed in a cylindrical container, and whizzed to the cashier along overhead wires; then, after a pause for reckoning, the projectile.."
BARGER, Harold. Distribution's place in the American economy since 1869. (New York: Arno, 1976) p.51 "Cash registers were introduced early in our period, and fought a long and successful battle with the cash railway and other clumsier devices."
BARRON, Clarence W. and MARIN, Joseph G. The Boston Stock Exchange. (1893)
BEECHING, C.L.T. The retail shop: its organization,
management and routine. (London: Pitman, 1930) p.54. "The overhead wires
and machinery at the 'stations' are objected to as tending to disfigure the
shop's appearance. In the case of pneumatic tubes, these are led by hidden and
devious ways beneath the counter."
p.55 "The cash railway system, where change is, or should be, checked by the assistant counting it out to the customer, scores over its rival" [the cash register].
BENSON, Susan Porter. Counter cultures: saleswomen,
managers and customers in American department stores, 1890-1940. (Urbana: Univ.
of Illinois, 1986) p.19. "Devices for conveying cash and change between
selling counters and central cashiers' stations had a similar appeal, and both
mechanical cash carriers and pneumatic tube systems enjoyed great popularity,
the latter first used in Wanamaker's store in 1880. Stores in smaller cities
with more modest standards of urban amenity adopted these improvements later
and more gradually."
p.40. "While the use of registers by salespeople served cashiers' salaries and achieved marginal gains in speed over pneumatic tube systems, these advantages were offset by mangers' uneasiness about decentralizing a task that could be closely supervised for honesty and efficiency in a central tube station."
Boston Globe. Stories of certain Massachusetts
investment: reprinted from the Boston Globe. (Boston, 1915) p.137. "The
American Pneumatic Service Company is a holding company controlling the companies
running the pneumatic tubes, which carry great bundles of mail .. and it also
controls the Lamson Consolidated Store Service Company, which makes and sells
or leases any kind of pneumatic tubes and carriers, 10 distinct types of wire
line cash and message carriers, nine types of parcel carriers, and three of
wire vertical lifts, beside many others of older types, which are kept in stock
for users of the earlier made carriers. The motto of the company is to substitute
machines for men and children as carriers, in every possible way... The Lamson
Store Service Company's business has always been a large dividend-paying asset
of the company. It has more than 60,000 patrons in the leading companies of
the world... In the past its great field has been retail department store work."
p.138. "It is estimated that a large department store, hiring 300 cash girls or boys, at an annual cost of $46,800 a year for wages alone, can supply their places, at greater speed, with a 200-station pneumatic tube plant at a cost of $50,000 for first installation and $1,250 per year for power, the service nearly paying for itself in one year. The company aims to handle anything in the line of money, mail or merchandise more quickly and more safely than human hands perform the same service."
"The wire-line cash carrier was the next development, then the wire-line parcel carrier, then the endless cable carrier, and then the pneumatic tubes. These latter are of three types: "vacuum", "vacuo-pressure" and "pressure", according to the method of propulsion employed. The carriers in these tubes range from 2 1/4 inches in diameter theough 3, 3 1/2, 4 and 5 inches, in use in stores, banks and offices, to the 8-inch and 10-inch carriers in which the great 500-letter and 1000-letter packages of mail whisk."
BRADFISCH, Jean. The hall picture (Xlibris, 2002) p.122 "I took a part-time job in the yard-goods department of J.C.Penney's. .. I'd send the sales slip and the money in a vacuum tube with a sudden whoosh overhead along a cable to the cashier's office. Change came back with a small explosion the same way."
Boyes stores: the story of a family. 1881-1981: a century of good value. (Scarborough, ?1981)
The shop was rebuilt in 1896 and named the Remnant warehouse. Photograph
on p.5, "one of the earliest photographs of the interior of 'The Rem' ",
shows a cash ball system.
p.11. "In 1900 extensive alterations .. were put in train. For the sum of £848 the Lamson Pneumatic Tube Company agreed to install a cash-and-change system to every counter."
p.37. "The crockery department in 1915.. Note the Lamson tube cash system. [See photos of the Boyes museum]
(The store was destroyed by fire on 26 February 1915 and rebuilt.)
p.39. "Crockery department, 1950s" - shows tubes along the ceiling.
BRIGGS, Asa. Friends of the people: the centenary history of Lewis's. (London: Batsford, 1956). Plate 30. "Behind the scenes in 1915: the cash-tube room". Shows long counter with dozens of ornate tube terminals: the store is the Manchester one (Ben Selwood).
BRISCO, Norris Arthur. Retailing. (Prentice-Hall, 1947) p.422, "Communication between central cashiers and the selling floor is usually established by means of a pneumatic-tube system. Carriers sent through the tube take money to the cashiers and return change to the selling floor."
BURGESS, F.W. The practical retail draper: a complete guide for the drapery and allied trades. 5 vols. (London: Virtue, 1912-14). Vol. 1, p.128. "Since Lamson, the originator of the cash-carrying system for drapers, first introduced the plan of automatic service such methods have been very generally installed, and there are few towns without some of these installations being in use. The 'Rapid' and the 'Challenge' wire carriers are perhaps the best known. They economise time in serving customers, and enable the assistant to transmit the bill and cash to the cashier's desk; receiving back the receipted bill with the change, if any. The 'railway' which transports the ball or carrier with its contents operates while the assistant is completing the transaction or packing the goods. There are pneumatic cash tubes operated by foot or electric power, and basket packet carriages."
BURKE, Kenneth. A rhetoric of motives. (Univ. California Press, 1969) p.244 "In the department stores of some decades ago, there were little carriages running in tracks between the cashier and the individual sales booths. (You still see them occasionally, but they have mostly been replaced by pneumatic tubes.) They would spurt forth, making quick jerks (like Kierkegaardian leaps) at each right-angled turn - darting in zigzags across the ceiling, and then disappearing on the way up to some unseen chamber where they would be received, checked, and after appropriate operations would be sent racing back to the counter from which they had come. Their forthright rectangular urgency fascinated and a pious child, watching them, could feel that they were like messengers bearing communications to Heaven, and returning with prompt answers."
BURKE, Thomas. Son of London. (Jenkins, 1946) p.117. "Some of them I set in the shops - in the big drapery store whose overhead cash-railway played an important part in the story."
BUTCHER, Josephine. Tunbridge Wells: I was born in the Pantiles. (Tunbridge Wells: Turney Publ., 1990) p.75 "Large drapers shops such as Waymarks or Goldsmiths... The change was conveyed by an overhead railway, it had wire rails which ran above the counters and contained a round wooden ball which unscrewed in the middle. The assistant pulled a lever to bring the ball down to the counter, unscrewed the ball, wrapped the bill round the money, screwed the ball up again, and pulled the lever and sent it on its way through the building to the cashier, who then opened the ball, receipted the amount, added the change, and sent it back to the assistant."
BUTLER, Elizabeth B. Saleswomen in mercantile
stores: Baltimore, 1909. (New York: Russell Sage, 1912) p.51. "Where
a tube or cable system is in use, and where there are a number of aisle counters,
small girls or boys are employed to carry parcels and change from aisle to tube
or cable terminus."
p.54. "Where the cashier is also wrapper .. her training and intelligence need not be so high as if she were one of the half dozen cashiers who handle cash coming through tubes from the entire store... [She] is a bit superior to the saleswoman."
BUXTON, Andrew. Cash carriers in shops. (Princes Risborough: Shire, 2004) 32 pages, £3.50. Contents: How and why cash carriers were used; Lamson and the cash ball system; cable and wire systems; pneumatic tube systems; cash carriers in memory, literature and film; further reading; places to visit.
BUXTON, Andrew. All change: cash carriers ride again. In: BBC History Magazine, March 2005, pp.44-45. History of the three types of cash carriers. Photograph of Moons, Galway and diagram from U.S. Patent no. 273,841 of 1883.
BYRON, Joseph. New York interiors at the turn of the century, in 131 photographs .. from the Byron Collection of the Museum of the City of New York. (New York: Dover, 1976). Plate 113 shows a corner of the Abraham and Straus Department Store, Brooklyn with an elaborate system of tracks and pulleys. "The cash-credit system is accelerated by mechanical cups, which buzz along on overhead tracks and disappear through the ceiling for change or charge approval upstairs." It was the inspiration for the reconstruction at Disneyland Paris. Plate 121 is of Moe Levy and Company Clothiers, Walker Street, and appears to have some kind of cash carrier in the background.
CAIN, Betty Swanson. American from Sweden: the story of A.V.Swanson. Southern Illinois Press, 1987, p.63. "The clerks sent sales slips and money in closed metal cups on a wire trolley up to the cashier."
CALLERY, Sean. Harrods, Knightsbridge: the story of society's favourite store. London: Ebury, 1991.
CALVERT, Catherine. The palaces of downtown. In: The quiet center: women reflecting on life's passages (Hearst, 2001) p.18 "The department store, like church, was Downtown... Carpeting kept everything to a well-bred, soft hum, except for the sharp click and wheeze of the pneumatic tube that passed overhead, whizzing the money and slips to the office."
The Century: illustrated monthly magazine, vol. 24 no. 6, Oct. 1882, pp.956-8. "Shop conveniences." (Not about WCs!) Mentions three systems: a monorail with two-wheel cars, the pneumatic dispatch tube, and the cash ball system. No manufacturers or locations are named.
CHEW, Linda and Anthony. The Co-op in Birmingham. (Stroud: Tempus, 2003) p.25 "Note the pneumatic cash tube on the counter
of the Bespoke tailoring department."
p.31 "Most people fondly remember the pneumatic cash tubes... All the business floors had pneumatic communication tubes and the cash from twenty-two different stations was handled in this office."
p.36 has a photograph of the hardware department with a bank of parallel tubes running across the picture.
p.64 shows Branch No. 105, Cregoe Street, Lee Bank on 27 September 1948. It is said to be "an early example of a self-service store" but there are three or four wire stations. It seems to be a two-wire system.
CLASSEN, Meinhard; TYGAT, G.N.J. and LIGHTDALE, Charles J. Gastroenterological endoscopy. (Stuttgart: Thieme, 2002) p.63 "I remember being enormously impressed when I was a child by the vacuum tube method by which a bill and the money for a purchased item could be whizzed through to a central office and then reappear within a few seconds with the change through a metal pipe system."
Clothier and Furnisher (date unknown) p.62 "150 feet deep, devoted to hats, furnishings and shoes, with a basement devoted to trunks and travelling bags, and the second floor to clothing. They have a patent cash system run on overhead wires."
CORINA, Maurice. Fine silks and oak counters: Debenhams, 1778-1978. (London: Hutchinson Benham, 1978) p.116 "Many people today have childhood memories of Emmett-like contraptions for carrying cash and invoices across ceilings and down walls. There were clanking continuous belts, mechanisms for catapulting screw canisters over customers' heads, and pneumatic tubes."
CORSARO, William A. The sociology of childhood. (Thousand Oaks, Cal.: Pine Forge, 1997) p.63 "In large department stores 'cash' boys and girls carried the item sold and the customer's money to an inspector, who took the money and sent the children back with a wrapped package and change. By the turn of the century, however, these jobs were all eliminated as the 'pneumatic tube' [a device in which receipts and money could be transferred by air pressure from sales clerks to cashiers], followed swiftly by cash registers at each sales counter, made the children superfluous. (Quoting D.Nasaw, Children of the city, 1985, p.43)
Howard E. Jr. Belk, Inc: the company and the family that built it. (Charlotte,N.C.:
Belk, 2002) p.50. "When clerks made a sale they placed the sales ticket
and the customer's payment in a wire basket that was carried along greased wire
guidelines directed by a series of pulleys to the cashiers' desk. There cashiers
made change and sent the basket whizzing back to the clerk. This contraption,
called the Lamson system, provided a constant background noise of whirring and
clicking as the baskets zipped through various intersections." There is
a photograph on p. 62 in which the cables can be seen near the ceiling.
p.55 [After expansion in 1927] "The noisy Lamson system had been replaced by three and a half miles of pneumatic tubes."
COX, Kathleen. People who help us. (History from photographs). Wayland. p.15 has a photograph of a grocer's shop with an assistant working what looks like a Gipe propulsion.
DACHÉ, Lilly and LEWIS, Dorothy Roe. Talking through my hats. (New York: Coward-McCann, 1946) p.75 "This Saturday morning I went to record a sale, and send the money and the sales slip whizzing away to the cashier in one of those little cylinders. I started it on its way and rushed off to wait on other customers... Those little change carriers still annoyed me. It seemed such a waste of time to have to stand and wait until the change came back."
DALE, Tim. Harrods: a place in Knightsbridge. (London: Harrods, 1995) pp.130-131 have photographs of a message carrier and the tube room.
DAVID, Donald Kirk and McNAIR, Malcolm Perrine. Problems in retailing. (A.W.Shaw, 1926) p.499, "On the floors above the first, the store was using a pneumatic tube system for making change for cash sales. Throughout the entire store a separate tube system had been used for more than 10 years."
p.504, "Pneumatic tube system was used for sending sales slips for charge-take sales of $10 or more to the credit office for approval."
DEAN, Frederick Ernest. Famous cableways of the world. (London: Muller, 1958) p.16. "Twin-track schemes cannot be passed over without a brief mention of the wonderful overhead rail systems, once very popular in shops, that performed the final rites on making a purchase. The customer's money, with the bill, was put by the assistant into a hollow ball, which rolled by gravity down a twin track to the cashier. Back came the ball with the receipted bill, plus any change. No power was required - only gravity!"
p.17 "There was also another and even more intriguing aerial money changer to be found in the best shops, and this was a true cableway, power operated. A tight wire was stretched between counter and cashier, and this carried a container running on pulleys. The bill and money were duly stowed away, the assistant pulled a lever, and the container whizzed along the wire high above customers' heads to the waiting cashier. The return journey (not forgetting the change) was made in similar fashion, and a nostalgic thought persists that the cashier had a most enviable job - shooting his money missiles literally 'all over the shop' all day long!"
DOOLITTLE, William Henry. Inventions in the
century. (Linscott 1903) p. 161 "Buffers of all kinds have been devised
to effect the stoppage of the carrier without injury thereto under the different
degrees of force with which it is moved upon its way, to prevent rebounding,
and to enable the carrier to be discharged with facility at the end of its route.
Among the early mechanical means of transporting the carriage was an endless cable moved continuously by an engine, and this adoption of cable principle in store service was co-eval with its adoption for running street cars. Also the system of switching the cars from the main line to a branch, and in different parts of a city, at the same time that all lines are receiving their motive power from the main line, corresponds to the manner of conveying cash to all parts of a building at the same time from many points. To the great department store or monstrous building wherein, as we have said, the whole business of a town may be transacted."
16 March 1895, p.687. Advertisement for the Castle Cash Carrier
17 March 1900, p.676. Surburban London's latest emporium - John Barnes & Co., Hampstead.
15 September 1900. Full page advertisement for Lamson Pneumatic Tube Co.
17 September 1904, p.787 Full page advertisement for Lamson Store Service Co. and Lamson Pneumatic Tube Co. "Branches and agencies throughout the Eastern hemisphere." The Lamson Ball cash railway is "the only gravity system extant."
Dunkirk [New York] Observer-Journal, 7 Feb. 1889, p.2. "There are many large stores in Tokyo, and these, as a rule, do their business on strict business principles. They have many clerks, but the cash boy and the elevated cash railway are unknown."
References E-L References M-S References T-Z Cash carriers in Fiction