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It's never an actual jar. More like a dish. For example the hotel pianist's giant brandy snifter won't be labeled "tips! Actually, those giant snifters are so associated with tipping they don't have to be labeled no matter who uses them. I remember as a kid it also used to be the bin with the matchbooks in it. Since matches were two cents people would just toss the pennies in the bin full of match books and grab their matches.

At most cash registers, there is a tray or jar containing some pennies. You've essentially just saved three cents, and you haven't had to break another bill. But if you pay for something, breaking a bill, and you receive some pennies as part of your change, it's generally considerate to put those pennies into the "take a penny, leave a penny" jar so that someone else can use them.

The value of a penny is low enough that no sane person will get bent out of shape about losing or saving a few cents, but if you can avoid breaking a bill and ending up with a pocket full of small change that's usually the preferred way to end up. Nobody likes having a pocket full of pennies. Not cool to take a penny from that jar. These days, it's most often a little plastic tray. Many companies will give trays with their brand logos on them for free to convenience stores. You've discovered its actual purpose!

The "Shit, my drawer count is off by 2cents" tray. Not saying I did it, just that I've seen it done It's been tried Death to Pennies. Alas the US Mint can't learn.


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It's not that the Mint can't learn, it's that lobbyists keep encouraging Congress to shoot down any legislation that would cancel the coins. States where those metals are mined and processed don't want to lose the income and jobs. A jar by a cash register where people can take or leave surplus pennies. I fervently hope that when we finally break down and get rid of pennies, we get rid of nickels too -- we've delayed the inevitable so long that it will end up making sense to jump to the dime all at once.

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Penny - Idioms by The Free Dictionary

I know the nickel, like the penny, is being produced at a loss, but I'm not sure how we'd go without using nickels in change. If prices are rounded to the nearest 10 cents, quarters drop out of usage, which isn't great -- no one wants a bunch of tiny dimes. If by "stubborn" you mean "corrupted by campaign contributions from the zinc industry" then you are sadly correct. Its a cheap way to pay it forward without actually having to deal with someone who actually needs help because they are icky. Its a way to get rid of pennies that we don't want because they are virtually worthless for everything, except in cases when we don't know the exact price of what something is.

So they are really they only exist to make room for them to exist.

I'm a Brit, but surely this is obvious?! Put your change in a jar by the till, so others can take it if they need it. If you have some loose change that you don't want to carry around in your pocket - pennies, nickles, maybe dimes, you leave it in the bowl. So we often leave them behind, and clerks put them in the "take a penny" jar. They can't put it back in their register as then the register will be off by that amount.

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I appreciated the sentiment, but I felt like I was cheating or stealing somehow and the guilt follows me to this day. Your cost is 4. You pay with a five. You get three pennies. What the fuck are you going to do with pennies? You leave them in the penny dish. A guy comes in later. He buys some shit.

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Spend a penny'?

His final cost is 5. Oh, shit, he's only got a 5! He grabs two cents. There have been several attempts to circulate coins with a value of one dollar, but they never caught on with the public. Americans just hate having change clanking around in their pocket. As such, we'll do anything to keep from breaking a bill in order to make up for some odd amount.

Remember that in the U. Americans hate loose change so much that you'll often see coins of higher denominations in this jar. After a purchase, people will just throw whatever change that is handed back to them into this jar. Correction sales tax can also be neighborhood level. Bring back the big honkin' Eisenhowers! Although that's true, that doesn't change the usefulness of the take-a-penny thing -- on the contrary, as the penny becomes more worthless these are more valuable.

Who cares about 4c? No one, so they leave them in the jar. I think the point is it's easier for the cashier to grab two pennies from the tray than make 98 cents of change. The tray is probably there for the benefit of the store, not you. I see the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny trays as a way for people to opt out of pennies because pennies are so small as to be worthless.

The till still has to balance to the cent, but people don't have to carry pennies in their pockets. If you don't have exact change, you can grab from that to make it so you don't have to break a dollar bill, or to make change easier. I have seen such jars in the UK. Not very often, but they do exist. There's a petrol station a few miles from me that has one. I was buying milk at very shady convenience store chain for non Americans and left a few pennies in the tray as I was leaving. The owner picked them up and put them back in the drawer right in front of me.

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And what exactly is so insane about it? Actually, people have figured it, and are already doing something about it, namely, using "give a penny, take a penny" trays at convenience stores and elsewhere. These "give a penny, take a penny" trays reflect the fact that most people realize, nowadays, the penny has fallen so much in value, that it is mostly a waste of time to worry about.

The way these trays are supposed to work is: The problem with these trays is that people mainly take pennies out of them, and don't always put pennies into them. In addition, there are some customers who seriously abuse the "give a penny, take a penny" tray. Without naming names, let me just say that one time, I observed a person who pretended that he didn't have any nickels, who took seven pennies out of the "give a penny, take a penny" tray to help make a transaction. Because of the bias and the abuse of the "give a penny, take a penny" tray, merchants often seed their trays with pennies.

Perhaps these merchants have grown sick and tired of all the little cheating that is going on at their cash registers, and are now agitating the Congress to "do something. Having mentioned the time when only gold and silver were money, I thought I would give some of the history of the problems of coinage in the United States.

Way, way back in the beginning, there was no problem with coinage whatsoever.

take a penny leave a penny

The dollar was simply a measure of silver that happened to approximately equal the amount in the Spanish Dollars that were then in circulation in the country. These Spanish Dollars were very nice coins. Being made out of silver, they were very hard and did not much wear out in use. Being dollar coins, they were large. Their hardness, their heft, and the distinctive sound they made when flipped onto a solid wood counter top made them difficult to counterfeit, and very useful as hand-to-hand money. But, being dollar coins, they were of limited use for making change. These Spanish Dollars were also known as "Pieces of Eight," since — in Spanish denominations — they were worth eight reals pronounced "ree-als".

Smaller denomination Spanish coins, including the Half Dollar four reals and Quarter Dollar two reals also circulated; as did the one bit one real and half bit one-half real. The last two coins — the one bit and half bit — were rather small coins, in terms of weight, diameter and thickness, and didn't hold up very well in circulation.

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But, given the social necessity of making change, they circulated nevertheless. For the first several decades of the republic, these Spanish coins were the main medium of exchange for cash transactions. And, with regard to the copper coins, these were mostly tokens issued by merchants that circulated in the local area as long as the merchant remained in good repute.

Then, in , the legal ratio of gold to silver was re-jiggered so as to overvalue gold and make it into the actual money of the country. The next several decades proved very difficult for our monetary standard, since full bodied coins could not be sustained in circulation. To make a long story short, the temporary fix to the new gold standard was to require banks to carry a gold reserve and for the government to issue subsidiary coins; and, the permanent fix was to replace commodity money with fiat money.

But, we have not yet completed the evolution to our new fiat money standard.

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True, all references to gold and silver and even to "lawful money" have been removed from our paper money. But, our coinage still reflects much of our original Spanish coinage. Our quarters and half dollars are the same size as the subsidiary silver coins first issued in , and are just a tad smaller than the original quarters and half dollars.