Tilton

Advanced Member
I know phone calls used to be a dime - were they ever a penny?
I think this is an urban myth that was partially popularized (at least recently) by the Brook Brothers blog. My father recalls NYC payphones costing $0.05 in the early 1940's and in 1951 there is a documented change to charging $0.10/call. Considering that Weejun's (the first production penny loafer sold in the US) came out in mid-1936, it seems extremely unlikely that is the source of the design because (assuming a phone call was ever $0.02) there would only have been about 4 years that the story would have ever been true (1936-1940). I'm especially skeptical when you take into consideration that 3-4 years from inception to $0.05 payphones is probably not enough time for pennies-on-campus to be a fully realized trend and that prior to the release of the Weejun (which originally came with the penny slot), the shoe design existed in that basic state as a peasant shoe in Norway (very wealthy sportsmen who went salmon fishing in Norway started buying them while on vacation and wearing them as casual shoes in Palm Beach around 1934). I could be wrong, but I think the drunk college student thing just sort of plays too easily off the stereotype of pennies and is just a bit too convenient of a story given the history.
 
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Tilton

Advanced Member
From what I recall, wasn't it a dime per shoe, and then it became pennies when calls became a quarter?

When was the first time they were called "penny loafers," anyway?
Now, I wouldn't know anything about dimes or when the name came around, but I am pretty confident the penny aspect was never really for making phone calls. The Brooks blog clearly states that it was pennies and that calls were $0.02, which is where I got it from (and presumably others in this thread as well). But, Brooks is in the business of selling that kind of story to sell a product and not historical accuracy, so I recommend reading brand-blogs with a hearty amount of skepticism, especially when they start talking history and heritage. Just my $0.02, though.
 

Roycru

Senior Member
DANG, Roycru. The shoes are nice but those embroidered cords are killer.
Thank you. The shoes are Allen Edmonds Flagstaffs. They have Vibram lug soles. I've often thought that if rubber soles had been invented first, no one would want leather soles. The cords are Polo.
 

Gurdon

Moderator
This appears to cover the topic: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slip-on_shoe> The mention of the Norwegian originator being inspired by Native American moccasins is interesting. I recall having heard something about such a connection but have not encountered documentation untill the Wikipedia article.

Gurdon
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
I posted a version of the penny loafer / 2 cent phone call issue on another forum that focusses heavily on the cultural and social history of, mainly, the US from about the 1920s - early 1960s and the early read from there is that phone calls were never 2 cents. I'll provide updates on this thread if I learn more.
 
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