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Have You Ever Found A Red Quarter? What Did You Think It Was?

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💰 Have you ever found a Red Quarter? What did you think it was? Red quarters are known as “shills”, “house coins” or “freebies.”

If you’ve ever found an old quarter that was painted red, (usually dated before the ‘90s) those were used in Arcades to count free plays.

Whenever the machine ate your quarter without giving you your game, you’d tell the attendant who would give you a free game to make up for it. Sometimes they had the key to open the coin mech and hit the switch, but in many cases Arcade owners didn’t trust their teenaged employees to have coin mech keys where they could reach in there and grab a fist full of quarters.

Instead, Arcades would have extra quarters called “shills” or “house coins” used for this purpose. Sometimes these could also be found in laundromats and diners with jukeboxes. House coins were painted red so that at the end of each week, when all the quarters were counted from the coin box, they would subtract the red quarters from their earnings and return them to the attendants to be used again. Over time most of these quarters have made their way back into circulation.

The next time you come across a red quarter dated before the early 1990s set it aside! You never know if that quarter worked long hours at an old Tilt or Aladdin’s Castle somewhere.

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Yep, but that's not the only reason they were used:

They’re old test coins. In the past, repairmen used them to check out the coin-operated pay phones, vending machines, and laundromat washers they were fixing in order to avoid being accused of stealing. That makes sense to me.

They were “house” money. Red quarters are sometimes used by business owners as perks; they give them to their preferred customers for free plays on the coin-operated pool tables, pinball machines and video games. Red quarters were also used by waitresses to “prime” otherwise quiet jukeboxes in order to encourage other patrons to add their own quarters and keep the music coming.

Somebody painted it as a sign of defiance. According to Answers.com, the red coins were part of a campaign in the 1970s to protest New Jersey officials’ decision to increase the toll on the Garden State Parkway from 15 cents to a quarter.

They were once used for free laundry.For some apartment managers, free laundry is apparently a fringe benefit. Landlords will often give their building supervisors red quarters for use in the apartment laundromats. The managers would get their quarters back when the owner or laundromat vendor removed the cash from the machines.

 

But what's a blue quarter mean? :)

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Edited by Scott Stilphen

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