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I was using our new high-tech vending machine at the radio station yesterday, depositing my $1.50 for a bottle of seltzer water at lunch, when the last quarter in my hand was rejected. I looked down at the change return slot, thought, "that's odd," dropped the quarter in again. This happened about three times before I finally gave up and walked down to my office for a different quarter.
When that quarter worked, one of my co-workers said to me, "you know why that other quarter didn't work?" I had no idea. What followed was a two minute history lesson on the US Mint. Apparently quarters made before 1964 are made of silver, rendering them lighter than the "modern" quarter we now use. Another cool fact: the silver quarters are now being sold and melted down for jewelry. Pretty cool!
My new lunch room best friend finished my lesson by telling me that the quarter that I ALMOST traded to anyone in the room for one that would have worked was in fact worth about $3.50, just the silver alone, and could be valued as high as $5!
Another reason to check your change!