The concept of ‘Change Due’ was invented early in the twentieth Century; in the small towne of Pembroke, Arkansas, in the United States.
John White, the local Blacksmith, walked into the neighbouring General Store one day in summer 1907, to purchase a replacement hammer. Patrick Higgins, the owner of the store rang the purchase through, to a total of fifteen cents. White placed a quarter dollar down on the counter.
‘What the hell is that supposed to be?’ asked Higgins good-naturedly, blinking roughly at the coin.
‘I’m sorry, Pat,’ said White. ‘I haven’t any smaller coins.’
Higgins looked gravely from his customer, out the window behind him, and then back to John White. ‘The Bank’s just across the street, John.’
‘It closed early, to-day. Look, I’m sorry about this, but I need the hammer now.’
Higgins sighed. ‘Well, okay, John, but you know I don’t carry tabs. You sure you don’t just want to buy some thing for ten cents?’
John looked around at the other merchandise in the store, then turned back. He said, ‘well can’t you just, you know, give me ten cents?’
‘What, you mean give you ten cents of my own?’
‘I give you ten cents for you to buy a hammer?’
‘Well, I would give you twenty-five cents.’
‘But it only costs fifteen, John, that’s my point.’
‘It would all amount to the same thing, though, Pat.’
‘Sure. If I gave you twenty-five cents, and then you gave me ten, then you’d have over-all fifteen cents more. And then I’d be less fifteen, having given you twenty-five and received ten.’
‘Well, I do see a certain logic there, John. But the thing is, your way I would then have a quarter, whereas had you just given me fifteen cents, I would have two dimes and one nickel. Actually, I could possibly have some pennies in place of one of those coins.’
‘Well surely that doesn’t make a difference.’
‘As you can see in your current predicament, it does make a difference. What if I wished to spend that quarter toward items less than twenty-five cents? Why, I’d have to go down to the bank, wouldn’t I? The very bank you had not the forethought to go to.’
‘Please, Pat. Do us a favour this once.’