With so many people using plastic and paper to pay for items nowadays, it can be difficult to think of a time where most of the transactions we take for granted were done with coins. It seems that the only time we use coins in the modern era is to use the coin laundry parts to pay for laundry services or stick a token in an arcade machine at the movies or at a park.
However, coins did have their uses outside of just being spare change and filling up piggy banks. For one, they were often used as the primary method of payment. Look at the prices of things in the old days, where a newspaper cost a nickel, a fresh lunch cost you a quarter, and a haircut could be gotten with pocket change. The coins were the main payment method until the dollar overshadowed them.
Payphones were another great example of using coins, as a call could be made and then sustained with coins. The amount of pocket change you had determined who you could call and how long you could stay on the line, unlike now with all these unlimited plans and the ability to pay the phone bill at the end of the month.
Finally, one of the only examples of a coin-based payment that is still in use today is laundromats. Where quarters allow for you to load, soak, and dry your clothes. It’s still remained strong in the present, and breaking down a few dollars into cents can get you a good laundry day.
No matter what, the art of paying with coins is now secondary to the art of paying with a dollar, but if you ever do find yourself paying with the coins in your pocket, think of it like going back in time.