Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

National Bookkeeping Machine

National Bookkeeping Machine

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
The machine combines the capabilities of a printing adding machine with the ability to print a few letters. It is a modification of the Allen Wales adding machine produced after the National Cash Register Company had acquired that company.
The device has a gray-brown metal case and nine columns of green and white color-coded plastic number keys. Odd-numbered keys are concave, even numbered keys, flat. Immediately to the right of these keys is a column of red keys marked with letters designating the significance of the number entered (e.g. one key reads “TX”, perhaps for designating taxes). To the right of the keyboard is a lever, and, to its right, a column of four function bars and keys. To the left of the keyboard are four other function keys. Above the keyboard is a row of nine openings under a glass cover.The openings show digits in the total. Behind this result window are two metal levers, one for tabs and the other for non-printing.
Behind the openings is the printing mechanism, with a red and black ribbon. The spools of the ribbon are under metal covers that are screwed in place. The mechanism includes a set of five wheels that can be set to a date. Behind these is a sheet of clear plastic, the carriage, and the narrow paper tape. The carriage is 39 cm. (15 1/4”) across, and divided into two parts. The narrow section on the left side takes a narrow paper tape, which is 6 cm. (2 1/2”) wide and is turned by a wheel on the left. The wider section on the right side takes pieces of paper and apparently was used to enter both figures and the date. The machine has a rubber cord and four rubber feet.
A tag on the front of the machine reads: 158 552366. A mark on the back of the machine reads: MANUFACTURED BY (/) THE NATIONAL CASH REGISTER COMPANY (/) OF DAYTON, OHIO, U.S.A.. AT ITS (/) MANUFACTURING DIVISION (/) AT ITHACA, N.Y., U.S.A.
Compare to Allen Wales adding machines. NCR acquired Allen Wales Adding Machine Company in 1943.
This bookkeeping machine was used in the Washington, D. C., studio of African American photographers Addison Scurlock and his sons George and Robert S. Scurlock.
"NCR Buys Allen Wales," The Washington Post, December 26, 1943, p. B8.
Annual Report of the National Cash Register Company - 1953, p. 11. According to this brochure, the model 158 was introduced in 1954.
Currently not on view
Object Name
bookkeeping machine
date made
National Cash Register Company. Manufacturing Division
place made
United States: New York, Ithaca
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
paper (overall material)
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
overall: 30 cm x 58 cm x 45 cm; 11 13/16 in x 22 27/32 in x 17 23/32 in
ID Number
maker number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Bookkeeping Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission on our collection pages is temporarily unavailable. Please check back soon!

If you have a question or require a personal response, please visit our FAQ or contact page.