Collecting Pressed Coins

You’ve seen them around – at Disneyland, at amusement parks, at National Parks and museums.

The famous pressed penny machine just waits for you to give in to the temptation to create your own tiny souvenir with spare change.

The pressed coin will probably sit in your pocket and get lost in the wash a few days later, but hey, it was fun while it lasted.

Via "Coco" Mault on Flickr, every little kid's dream in a dinosaur park flattened coin.

Via “Coco” Mault on Flickr: every little kid’s dream in a dinosaur park coin.

But some collectors do favor these pressed, or elongated, coins, and keep them in their collections. They’re great for keeping memories of vacations or day trips.

Before the pressed penny machine, kids put pennies on railroad tracks for kicks in the hopes that passing trains would flatten them into an oval. Some then engraved the date into the pressed coin. (Rumors say this practice could derail a train, which has never been proven true – but it is risky for the person putting the penny on the tracks.)

An 1893 Columbian Exposition coin, one of the first elongated coins to be created.

An 1893 Columbian Exposition coin, one of the first elongated coins to be created.

The first actual penny pressing machine was at the World’s Columbian Exposition (the Chicago World’s Fair) in 1893, where visitors could press their pennies into various designs as souvenirs. They quickly gained popularity as visitors to the fair brought them back from their travels to show off to friends and family. Collectors can still find these coins today.

Via "Coco" Mault on Flickr.

A San Francisco Chinatown elongated coin, via “Coco” Mault on Flickr.

So how are elongated coins created? A penny, or more uncommonly another type of coin, is pressed between two highly pressured rollers. One of the rollers presses an engraved design into the coin.

Some question the legality of a pressed coin. While it is illegal to mutilate a coin for the purpose of counterfeiting, it is not illegal to change a coin for collecting purposes, without any intention of counterfeiting. So if you’re a fan of pressed coins, you have nothing to fear!

Do you own any pressed coins?


U.S. Coins

Numismatic Association


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