Question: My husband's family owns an old, elaborately embossed brass cash register which was included with his grandfather's 1944 purchase of a Dennisville country store. It is 20 inches high, 9 inches wide, 16 inches deep and marked "St. Louis Cash Register Model 48." The machine has no keys and is operated by a lever. We would appreciate any information you can provide about this piece. - G.S., Linwood

Answer: Invented during the late 1870s by Ohio saloonkeeper James Ritty, the cash register enabled business owners to track profit and loss as well as the sales which shop clerks had mistakenly or purposefully not recorded when working without supervision. Originally protected by crude wooden covers, the machines eventually were housed in elaborate stamped or embossed metal cases.

Made by the St. Louis Cash Register Co. located in Missouri from 1915 until the mid-1920s when the firm was acquired by McCaskey Register Co., small machines such as yours often were found in barbershops and candy stores. The keyless cash registers - sometimes called cheese cutters - were operated by moving a brass lever around a dial on the machine's front and pressing down to record a transaction's amount.

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Presently, such unusual small registers are considered especially desirable by collectors who pay $325 to $550 for working brass examples when the ma-chines are decorated with Art Nouveau or Deco style embossed designs and the ornamental top bracket is intact.

Question: Several years ago, I bought a 6 1/2-inch high, 8-inch in diameter, cobalt over clear cut glass compote at an estate sale. The piece is marked with an etched "Libbey" within a circle. Although it was tagged "Tassie" a woman who assisted me at the sale said she had no idea what that meant. Anything you can tell me about the piece will be helpful. - M.A., Bellmawr

Answer: Used since 1824 to describe a shallow dish or bowl resting on a high, footed pedestal, the word tassie is believed to have Italian and Persian roots. Made of glass, ceramic or metal, the saucerlike ornamental bowls often hold fresh berries, cakes or sweetmeats.

The description you provided suggests your tassie is a cobalt and crystal cut-to-clear glass piece. Such tassies, produced at American cut-glass factories from 1915 through the 1920s, were luxury items created by encasing a quality clear glass item with molten colored glass and later cutting a pattern through the colored glass to reveal the sparkling crystal beneath.

The mark you have noted indicates your piece was made by the Libbey Glass Co. of Toledo, Ohio. Incorporated as W.L. Libbey & Sons in 1888, the firm produced high quality cut and engraved glassware throughout the Bril-liant Period and became part of the Owens-Illinois Glass Co. in 1936.

Signed Libbey cut-to-clear cobalt and crystal tassies such as yours presently sell for $85 to $110, when they are in mint condition.

Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email:

Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.

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