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  #1  
Old 01-09-2010, 02:13 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Those 7-Sided UK 50 Pence Coins

Do they work in vending machines?
I always liked the 7-sided coins. also, the square coins in Aruba-are they a problem for vending machines?
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  #2  
Old 01-09-2010, 02:14 PM
Mr Shine Mr Shine is offline
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Yes
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  #3  
Old 01-09-2010, 02:19 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Yes to the first question. I've no idea about Aruba.
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  #4  
Old 01-09-2010, 02:22 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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The bag of ready-salted Walkers I had about 30 minutes ago can attest to the fact that 50ps do indeed work in vending machines.
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  #5  
Old 01-09-2010, 02:25 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Why do you think that they wouldn't work in vending machines?
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  #6  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:00 PM
Ximenean Ximenean is offline
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Because he apparently doesn't realise that you can look things up on Wikipedia and Google, and learn about them.
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  #7  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:01 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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Originally Posted by Ximenean View Post
Because he apparently doesn't realise that you can look things up on Wikipedia and Google, and learn about them.
You can also ask actual humans on message boards.

Which tends to be more efficient.

Last edited by Lobsang; 01-09-2010 at 03:02 PM..
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  #8  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:08 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Originally Posted by Lobsang View Post
You can also ask actual humans on message boards.
Shit, you guys are actual humans? Fuck!
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  #9  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:11 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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Shit, you guys are actual humans? Fuck!
Yeah, I was shocked too when I first found this out
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  #10  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:17 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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Haah! They think we're human. Then our disguises must be working. Tell John Big Boote quickly.
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  #11  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:25 PM
zelie zelerton zelie zelerton is offline
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Nah, we're just bots pretending to be humans.

Vending machines generally work by weight, not shape. So if an object is inserted which weighs about the same as a pre-designated coin-weight then the value of that coin will be credited. Hence why people bother to counterfeit coins - a metal pole is worth little but if you cut it up small.....
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  #12  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:32 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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The UK 50p and 20p coins are both curves of constant width - that is, each side is an arc centred on the opposite corner - this helps them not to jam in any chutes or channels in vending machines or other coin mechanisms. (and the coin measures the same diameter no matter which way it falls through)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curve_of_constant_width

Last edited by Mangetout; 01-09-2010 at 03:34 PM..
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  #13  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:38 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
The UK 50p and 20p coins are both curves of constant width - that is, each side is an arc centred on the opposite corner - this helps them not to jam in any chutes or channels in vending machines or other coin mechanisms. (and the coin measures the same diameter no matter which way it falls through)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curve_of_constant_width
There you go. If the OP had simply googled the question instead of asking on a Message Board. I and possibly several others would not have been presented with the opportunity to learn something interesting today.
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  #14  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:41 PM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
The UK 50p and 20p coins are both curves of constant width - that is, each side is an arc centred on the opposite corner - this helps them not to jam in any chutes or channels in vending machines or other coin mechanisms. (and the coin measures the same diameter no matter which way it falls through)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curve_of_constant_width
This answer is a great example of why asking a question on the Dope is better than just doing a search - that some piece of fairly esoteric knowledge will show up later in the thread that will be more interesting than the original question. It answers the unasked question of "why seven sides". A square coin seems to remain troublesome.

Last edited by gaffa; 01-09-2010 at 03:42 PM..
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  #15  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:44 PM
Ximenean Ximenean is offline
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Originally Posted by Lobsang View Post
You can also ask actual humans on message boards.

Which tends to be more efficient.
Come on, this particular poster has a record of asking easily Googleable questions. One suspects that some people just like starting threads for the sake of it. I don't see how it is more "efficient" for a load of other people to point you to Wikipedia et al, when you could just do it yourself.
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  #16  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:48 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ximenean View Post
Come on, this particular poster has a record of asking easily Googleable questions. One suspects that some people just like starting threads for the sake of it. I don't see how it is more "efficient" for a load of other people to point you to Wikipedia et al, when you could just do it yourself.
I said tends to be.

And by that I mean, on average you tend to get the answer to your question much quicker and more specifically by asking people, than by entering search terms into an artificially 'intelligent' computer system.

Also the humans will often know of a resource better than Wiki for the subject matter. I get much better quality help, and quicker, when I use the Dope for computer programming related questions than when I google them. Google tends to present you with reams and reams of irrelivant information. It's like looking for a particular needle in a stack of needles.

Whereas asking the question to people is like asking people a question: They'll probably tell you the answer.

ETA: I am speaking generally. Does this OP have a habit of asking simplistic questions? I didn't know. My main point is that Using Human beings as a resource is generally better than using Google or Wiki. How would you ask Wiki "Do those seven sided coins work in vending machines?" Wiki doesn't understand questions worded like that.

Last edited by Lobsang; 01-09-2010 at 03:51 PM..
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  #17  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:56 PM
Ximenean Ximenean is offline
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It depends on the question. Questions like "how come non-circular coins, such as the British 50p, work in vending machines?" are readily and comprehensively answered with no human intervention. You just type "50p" into the Wikipedia search box.
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  #18  
Old 01-09-2010, 04:01 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ximenean View Post
It depends on the question. Questions like "how come non-circular coins, such as the British 50p, work in vending machines?" are readily and comprehensively answered with no human intervention. You just type "50p" into the Wikipedia search box.
And get a large article about the history and lots of other aspects of the British 50p, the whole article possibly not even mentioning vending machines.

(Maybe it does mention vending machines and even answers the question. The point is, if you have a specific question such as the one in the OP and your choices are...

seek out articles about one of the objects in the question and hope that by reading through the article eventually you'll find a bit that answers your question


and...

Go to a forum and ask. Someone there probably knows the answer already.

The second makes more sense.
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  #19  
Old 01-09-2010, 04:08 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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I can't believe there's an argument happening about asking questions in a forum named 'General Questions'. What is the problem?
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  #20  
Old 01-09-2010, 04:10 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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Neither can I. And I'm one of the people arguing
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  #21  
Old 01-09-2010, 04:22 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
The UK 50p and 20p coins are both curves of constant width - that is, each side is an arc centred on the opposite corner - this helps them not to jam in any chutes or channels in vending machines or other coin mechanisms. (and the coin measures the same diameter no matter which way it falls through)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curve_of_constant_width
Blimey, I did not know this.

Again, Mangetout, your value-added knowledge of things unanswered never ceases to enlighten. Cheers!

Am I allowed also to say something about the arguments that say adapting vending machines as the reason dollar coins in the US wouldn't work is clearly bunk? Or is that wrong for GQ?

PS, ralph, if the 50p annoys you, check out the Cook Islands' triangular $2 coin to really give you an aneurism. (Though my personal fave from there is the one with the guy with his cock out.)
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  #22  
Old 01-09-2010, 04:39 PM
Ximenean Ximenean is offline
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I appreciate that a question might set off interesting tangential discussions, and I agree that this forum is not just about answering factual questions in a dry, encyclopaedic manner. I myself have been upbraided with answers such as "dude, just Google it" in response to threads I have started here. It's just that there are a few posters who continually make posts which suggest that they simply can't be bothered to look things up themselves, or perhaps that they just can't stop posting. That is what prompted my admittedly snarky initial repsonse.

Last edited by Ximenean; 01-09-2010 at 04:40 PM..
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  #23  
Old 01-09-2010, 05:01 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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I can see your point.

And I am not trying to perpetuate the argument here, but I thought of an analogy of 'dude, google it'. It's a bit like saying "Dude, buy a watch" to someone who asks the time..

..Which, if I think about it, is something I might actually be tempted to say to people if I wasn't a scaredycat about the need to be civil. I went to the effort of buying/wearing a watch so that I could tell the time for myself. I didn't do it so that I could be the announcer of time.


(Just the Thief of Time)
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  #24  
Old 01-09-2010, 07:37 PM
Celyn Celyn is offline
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When the 50 pence coins first appeared, there were people who complained that it was all wrong, and coins must be round, dammit, and that the sharp edges would cause tears* in people's pockets, and what the hell was ever wrong with a proper ten shilling-note anyway? (History does not relate, but I imagine this was a delightful chance for these people to have conversations that did not entirely consist of complaining about the weather not being as good as when they were young. )

Now I think of it, I suppose there would have been difficulty with vending machines at first, but pretty soon they all caught on, given that vending machine proprietors are in the business of wanting to take money. I have had annoyances with vending machines that want a pound but can't cope with a pound note, however.

*That's "tears" as in rips in the fabric: it's the lack of coins that cause the tears as in weeping, of course.
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  #25  
Old 01-10-2010, 12:43 AM
TBG TBG is offline
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It's also easier to hit the back button in your browser if you feel a question is beneath the board than post a "use google and wiki" post, isn't it?

I didn't even know UK had 7 sided coins. Now I do. Ignorance -1.
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  #26  
Old 01-10-2010, 02:23 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Since decimalisation, the size of the 50p coin has been revised - it used to be much larger - the same is true of the 10p and 5p coins, as well as most of the banknotes. The 20p, 1 and 2 coins, which were new introductions, appearing some time after decimalisation anyway.

In each of these cases, manufacturers of coin-operated machinery coped quite well with the changes - for a couple of weeks or months there might have been labels on some machines saying "this machine does not accept the new [whatever] coin", until the adaptations were made.

I think coin mechs are discrete modules in most coin-operated machines nowadays, making them quite easy to swap out.
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  #27  
Old 01-10-2010, 04:00 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
In each of these cases, manufacturers of coin-operated machinery coped quite well with the changes - for a couple of weeks or months there might have been labels on some machines saying "this machine does not accept the new [whatever] coin", until the adaptations were made.
It sounds like either:
  • UK vending machines makers and operators are less whiny than US ones or...
  • ...are less effective at whining to politicians.
The US still has not accepted a dollar coin. They keep re-designing it, but every attempt fails because, every time, the vending machine industry whines about changing the size. So every new version is the same size and weight as the last, several failed versions - which is almost exactly the same size and weight as the quarter-dollar. The pound coin and the Canadian Loonie are both easily distinguishable from any other coin in your pocket.

A seven-sided, thick, gold-colored, non-milled-edge extra heavy US dollar coin would be accepted. Congress needs to grow a pair.
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  #28  
Old 01-10-2010, 04:59 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
  • UK vending machines makers and operators are less whiny than US ones or...
  • ...are less effective at whining to politicians.
Throughout the Eurozone, more than a dozen countries managed to do this in 2002 with a change to every single coin and note in the currency. It took a few months to filter through, but there was nary a peep out of the vending machine manufacturers. I presume such changes are built into the business model as an expected circumstance. In fact, most of the rest of the world manages to cope with this sort of stuff on an irregular basis. I vote for US vending machine (and cash register) companies exaggerating the difficulties, as well as more effective whining to politicians.
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  #29  
Old 01-10-2010, 05:48 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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The US dollar, in its physical from, is different to most other major currencies. The US one dollar bill has been around since 1963 and the two dollar bill since 1923. (Apologies for the wiki link - the other sites I found were opinions or stuff for kids with no dates. This is remarkable, especially in comparison to European and Asian currencies - the UK changes its design every ten years or so to combat fraud.

Improvements in technology make it increasingly difficult to make a convincing fake UK note - it can still be done, but costs a lot more. It's odd that the US doesn't also change its design to combat fraud in the same way.

So perhaps the resistance against a dollar coin is not due to vendors or anything small like that, but down to whatever reasons the US has for retaining the same design for the dollar bill for such a long time.
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  #30  
Old 01-10-2010, 06:09 AM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
The UK 50p and 20p coins are both curves of constant width - that is, each side is an arc centred on the opposite corner - this helps them not to jam in any chutes or channels in vending machines or other coin mechanisms. (and the coin measures the same diameter no matter which way it falls through)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curve_of_constant_width
(hijack, but main question's been answered now)

This used to be accompanied by the factoid that a car with 50p or 20p-shaped wheels would, surprisingly, ride smoothly.
This was then debunked by the observation that these shapes have a constant diameter but not a constant radius from any point (IIRC).

But now it seems to have gone "full-circle" as I see on that link a guy has made a bicycle with 5 and 3-sided wheels.
It looks like there's a mechanism on the front adjusting the height of the front wheel relative to the fork, but not for the back. It's suspicious that I can't find a movie anywhere.
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  #31  
Old 01-10-2010, 06:10 AM
amarone amarone is online now
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Originally Posted by scifisam2009 View Post
The US dollar, in its physical from, is different to most other major currencies. The US one dollar bill has been around since 1963 and the two dollar bill since 1923. (Apologies for the wiki link - the other sites I found were opinions or stuff for kids with no dates. This is remarkable, especially in comparison to European and Asian currencies - the UK changes its design every ten years or so to combat fraud.

Improvements in technology make it increasingly difficult to make a convincing fake UK note - it can still be done, but costs a lot more. It's odd that the US doesn't also change its design to combat fraud in the same way.
The US has made several changes to the $5 and larger bills to combat fraud. It is not worth it for the one dollar bill as it is worth so little that there is very little counterfeiting. And nobody uses $2 bills.
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  #32  
Old 01-10-2010, 07:25 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
(hijack, but main question's been answered now)

This used to be accompanied by the factoid that a car with 50p or 20p-shaped wheels would, surprisingly, ride smoothly.
That was probably based on a misunderstanding - they don't work as wheels, but rollers (as in logs under a block) with that cross-section would be fine (this can be demonstrated by placing a row of the coins between two straight edges). I saw a large-scale demonstration of this on a TV programme once - I think it might have been Johnny Ball's Think of a number.

Last edited by Mangetout; 01-10-2010 at 07:25 AM..
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  #33  
Old 01-10-2010, 08:03 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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So, Do Aruban 4-Sided Coins Work?

In vending machines? I kept a few of them they are so neat!
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  #34  
Old 01-10-2010, 08:33 AM
Shakester Shakester is offline
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Australians have been using 12-sided 50c coins since 1969.

They work just fine in vending machines.

Last edited by Shakester; 01-10-2010 at 08:34 AM.. Reason: Clarity
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  #35  
Old 01-10-2010, 01:44 PM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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Originally Posted by amarone View Post
The US has made several changes to the $5 and larger bills to combat fraud. It is not worth it for the one dollar bill as it is worth so little that there is very little counterfeiting.
They have had an issue with counterfeiters "washing" the ink off of ones to use the paper to print bogus old, pre-security measures hundred dollar bills.
Quote:
And nobody uses $2 bills.
Actually, I have a friend - a bar owner - who buys fistful's of them to use for tipping. His excuse is that the wait staff will remember him. Sure. As "that joker with the $2 bills!"
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  #36  
Old 01-10-2010, 02:00 PM
zelie zelerton zelie zelerton is offline
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I wonder if the issue with vending machines perhaps did not exist at first. When the 50p was first produced it represented a fairly decent chunk of money. Even when I was a young child (early 80s) you could buy sensible things with 50p. As in some actual groceries and not just a bar of chocolate as it is now.

Perhaps it was more the case that the products found in vending machines were never going to amount to such a great price as 50p and that people were more likely to have smaller coins anyway. I remember slot machines etc at the local arcade only taking (old-style) 5p or 10p coins when I was a kid. Quite a few also took coppers. It took quite a while before prices rose sufficiently that 50p (and later 20p and 1 coins) were required. By the time that products had increased in price such that it was worthwhile changing vending machines to accept them we were so used to the coin that it wouldn't be worthwhile for the vending machine manufacturers to complain.
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  #37  
Old 01-10-2010, 02:07 PM
Pushkin Pushkin is offline
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Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
It sounds like either:
  • UK vending machines makers and operators are less whiny than US ones or...
  • ...are less effective at whining to politicians.
Prior to decimalisation there existed a three pence piece (thruppence I think it was called for short.)

It's nicely angular, but this PDF suggests it was designed with the input of vending machine manufacturers.

Edited to add, zelie, if I remember my child hood correctly, it was 35p for a Twix and 45 for a tin of Lilt

Last edited by Pushkin; 01-10-2010 at 02:08 PM.. Reason: zelie reminded me...
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  #38  
Old 01-10-2010, 03:31 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Originally Posted by Pushkin View Post
Prior to decimalisation there existed a three pence piece (thruppence I think it was called for short.)
Here's an anecdote I heard about the 12-sided thruppenny bit.

It seems there was a Guinness record for how many thruppenny bits could be stacked on edge. A man submitted photographic evidence that he had beaten the previous record by 2. (e.g. if the previous record was a stack of 10, he had achieved 12). The Guinness accreditator asked for a picture of the stack of 11, and was suspicious when such a photo could not be produced. After all, the first thing you would do when you beat the record would be take a picture, before risking everything by trying to add another coin.

When confronted, the man admitted that he had set up the picture by attaching carpet to the ceiling, suspending a table upside-down from the ceiling, and hanging the coins from the table using a strip of sellotape.

Last edited by hibernicus; 01-10-2010 at 03:36 PM.. Reason: Edited for spelling
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  #39  
Old 01-10-2010, 05:47 PM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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When confronted, the man admitted that he had set up the picture by attaching carpet to the ceiling, suspending a table upside-down from the ceiling, and hanging the coins from the table using a strip of sellotape.
Way off topic, but it's actually spelled "sellotape"? I always assumed it would be "cellotape" from cellophane.
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  #40  
Old 01-10-2010, 05:51 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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The brand name is Sellotape - apparently because it was distinctive enough to be trademarked at the time it was developed (whereas Cellotape may not have been)
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  #41  
Old 01-10-2010, 06:57 PM
amarone amarone is online now
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Way off topic, but it's actually spelled "sellotape"? I always assumed it would be "cellotape" from cellophane.
Sellotape.
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  #42  
Old 01-10-2010, 09:11 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
They have had an issue with counterfeiters "washing" the ink off of ones to use the paper to print bogus old, pre-security measures hundred dollar bills.
I don't think I'd take one of those (old $100 bill). But it's been so long since I've seen one that I'm not sure I'd recognize one if I saw it.

A new redesigned $100 bill (with added security features not found on other bills) was supposed to be released last year. However, I believe that last year the Treasury lost an ADA court case about currency not being distinguishable by the blind. I'm just guessing, but this may be what's causing the delay. They may be attempting to incorporate Braille or some other tactile clue on the bill.
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  #43  
Old 01-11-2010, 06:32 AM
WotNot WotNot is online now
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Originally Posted by zelie zelerton View Post
I wonder if the issue with vending machines perhaps did not exist at first. When the 50p was first produced it represented a fairly decent chunk of money. Even when I was a young child (early 80s) you could buy sensible things with 50p. As in some actual groceries and not just a bar of chocolate as it is now.

Perhaps it was more the case that the products found in vending machines were never going to amount to such a great price as 50p and that people were more likely to have smaller coins anyway. I remember slot machines etc at the local arcade only taking (old-style) 5p or 10p coins when I was a kid. Quite a few also took coppers. It took quite a while before prices rose sufficiently that 50p (and later 20p and 1 coins) were required. By the time that products had increased in price such that it was worthwhile changing vending machines to accept them we were so used to the coin that it wouldn't be worthwhile for the vending machine manufacturers to complain.
I think you're largely correct. My memories of the period are that there were very few vending machines of any sort at the time (in comparison to today), mostly selling small items like bars of chocolate – the only thing I can think of that might cost as much as 50p is cigarettes. Slot machines in arcades were the old, mechanical type like one-armed bandits and pinball machines, and mostly took only coppers, pre-decimalisation. Some were converted, but I think most were simply trashed and replaced with newer machines through the 70s (a lot of them were practically vintage by that point anyway).

I suspect that there was a period of technological development in slot and vending machines in that decade, which coincided with a sustained period of inflation, meaning that manufacturers had an incentive to make their machines easily upgradable.

Last edited by WotNot; 01-11-2010 at 06:33 AM..
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