Sunday, October 4, 2015

What the heck is a Cash Carrier?

Sometimes as I go through the many boxes of family treasures I run across something that I’ve looked at many, many times but this time, for whatever reason, it really piques my interest.  I come from a long line of newspaper ‘clippers’ and as it turns out, this practice goes back for more than 100 years.  Check out today’s newspaper clippings.

Cash Carrier 4_28_1992 Monterey New Era
The Monterey New Era
Thursday, April 28, 1892

And on the other side.

Cash Carrier 10_22_1892 Monterey Cypress
Monterey Cypress
October 22, 1892

Looks like my great grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer was an inventor!  I’ve written about his younger brother, Jacob Gunzendorfer, and his amusement apparatus invention here – looks like big brother Abe might have taught him a thing or two.

So, of course, I had to see if Abe’s cash carrier was ever patented and it looks like it was.

Cash Carrier Patent
The collected works of Sir Humphry Davy…Discourses delivered before the Royal societyElements of agricultural chemistry, pt. 1 (Volume 7)
Editor:  John Davy  Publisher:  Smith, Elder and Company, 1893

It’s hard to read but it was patented on November 15, 1892 and is patent number 486250.  So of course I searched more and found the patent.

Cash Carrier Sketch
US 486250 A
Filing Date May 25, 1892
Publication date November 15, 1892
Inventor Abe B. Gunzendorfer

The description of the patent is much too long to include in this blog but here’s an excerpt:

To all it may concern

Be it known that I, ABE B. GUNZENDORFER, a citizen of the United States, residing at Monterey, Monterey county, State of California, have invented an improvement in Cash-Carriers, and I hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description of the same.

My invention relates to that class of cash carriers in which the car is propelled from one end of the track to the other by means of a sudden force applied at either end.

My invention consists in the novel construction, combination, and arrangement of parts hereinafter fully described, and specifically point out in the claims.

The objects of my invention are to provide simple and effective means for receiving and locking the car at the end of the line, releasing and immediately projecting it on its travel, regulating the power of the propelling device, adjusting the track to any suitable inclination, and locking and releasing the cashbox in the casing.

And it goes on to get more and more technical but since my brain doesn’t work that way, I started drifting off even though this was my GREAT-GRANDFATHER! 

And then I looked on Wikipedia for a brief description and found that “cash carriers were used in shops and department stores to carry customers' payments from the sales assistant to the cashier and to carry the change and receipt back again.”

Okay, that makes sense since Abe’s father, Ferdinand Gunzendorfer, owned a store in Monterey called The White House which I’ve written about here.  Could they have taken in that much cash in the early 1890’s to need a cash carrier? 

So I checked out some photos I have of the interior of the store and don’t see anything like that.

White House Interior
Lots of stuff in there but I don’t see anything that looks like a cash carrier.  A little closer.

White House Interior Cropped

And for good measure (and because I love this photo), here’s Ferdinand in front of the store.  Nope, nothing there.

White House Ferdinand Cropped

So while I don’t see anything to show that they ever used Abe’s cash carrier in the store, it’s pretty cool to think that he invented it.  I’m thinking Abe Gunzendorfer was a smarty pants!


  1. Was it a vacuum tube? I don't think the clerks kept any money at their counters. I think it all went to a central location. The clerk wouldn't have been able to make change there at the counter. At least that's what I think!

  2. Yes, it's the tubes like at the drive-through window at the bank. It probably would not have been out in full view of customers in a department store. Before your great-grandfather invented this, somebody did a lot of walking back and forth. Thank-you, Abe!

  3. When I was a small child there were still cash carriers in Gottschalks and JC Penneys in downtown Fresno. I was always fascinated to see them in operation. Whoosh, and the money was on its way.

  4. That is really neat! I hope someday I find an ancestor who invented something. :)

  5. I wish I could read that patent illustration. What are the "cars"? I thought it had to do with railroad cars decoupling! But cash? OK, the tubes thing makes sense.

    1. the cars were more like canisters in which the money was placed and then put in the vacuum tube. Whoosh. The canister would be sucked up in the tube and off to its destination in the bowels of the building.