A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 24, 2016
Jewish Piano (a cash register)

Old-time cash registers had many sounds, such as rings, that were sweet music to merchants. The cash register was sometimes called a “Jewish piano,” after the stereotype of Jews as money-grabbing.

The slang comes from The Virginia Reel in 1921:

I want to buy a Jewish piano.
What’s that?
Cash register.


Modern cash registers don’t make the same sounds and the Jewish term is usually offensive, so the slang term “Jewish piano” is mostly of historical interest today.


Wiktionary: Jewish piano
Etymology
From the row of keys on a cash register and the stereotype of Jews as money-grabbing.
Noun[
Jewish piano
‎(plural Jewish pianos)
1. (slang, offensive) A cash register.

Google Books
The Virginia Reel
Volume 2
1921
Pg. 2:
I want to buy a Jewish piano.
What’s that?
Cash register.

Google Books
25 January 1922, The Northwestern Miller, pg. 409, col. 3:
“I want to buy a Jewish piano.”
“What’s that?”
“Cash register.” —Virginia Reel.

Google Books
Cartoons Magazine
Volume 21, Issue 1
1922
Pg. 155:
Punch
“I want to buy a Jewish piano.”
“What’s that?”
“Cash register.”—Virginia Reel.

Google News Archive
4 March 1992, McCook (NE) Daily Gazette, pg. 1, col. 3:
Hefner Apologizes
LINCOLN (AP)—Sen. Elroy Hefner of Colorado formally apologized today for referring to a cash register as a Jewish piano during floor debate Tuesday.

Urban Dictionary
jewish piano
Wonderful old expression for a large, bronze cash register. It has many keys on the front. When you press a key, it “rings up” the amount you pressed, and it rings a bell. You have to press several keys to “ring up” a large amount of money. Each of these rings is beautiful music to any merchant.

When you finish the “song,” the Jewish Piano opens and you can put in all that wonderful money you just collected.
(...)
by Sneaky Snyde May 27, 2005

YouTube
jewish piano
alp 666
Published on Apr 29, 2014

Twitter
Nick Cardinal
‏@cardinal_nick
My grandpa just referred to a cash register as a “Jewish piano” 😂😂😂
1:15 PM - 30 Oct 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Wednesday, August 24, 2016 • Permalink