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Justin

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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