Ah, the good old days. Going downtown meant getting dressed up. Ladies often added white gloves and hats.
The Westin – St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco first started washing dirty and grimy coins in 1938. Hotel manager Dan London noticed that handling tarnished coins would soil the white gloves so he ordered that all coins were to be washed before being given to guests. Since 1938, the Westin – St Francis Hotel has washed all the coins that are taken in by the hotel from their bar, restaurants, and cafes.
Fewer coins are taken in by the hotel these days, primarily because the Coke machines and pay phones are now a thing of the past. When was the last time you used a pay phone? Most people use cell phones instead.
Only the cleanest and shiniest coins are allowed to circulate among the guests and patrons of the Westin – St. Francis Hotel. Even today.
You can read more at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/12/26/MNHU1GT8K4.DTL#ixzz19cMpeO95