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


3 Bizarre and Hilarious Vintage Advertisements

We present to you three tobacco advertisements that are either nonsensical or just plain odd.

What may have looked normal to society at the time these cigarette and cigar ads were released have gotten a little lost in translation as time went on.

We’ve written about cigarette cards before, but these are a whole other deal.

It’s remarkable — and somewhat shocking — how many of these ads use babies and children to advertise tobacco products. Of course, all the risks of tobacco were not well known back then, but still: a baby shown next to a pack of cigarettes? Really?

Which brings us to the first ad:


“Just found his mail pouch” (via Boston Public Library)

This ad is more politically incorrect than anything, but then again, at that time “politically correct” was not a known phrase, so who are we to judge?

Along with finding Mail Pouch brand cigarettes, this bubbly baby boy found his own personal lung cancer twenty years down the road.

This one is my personal favorite:


The further back you go in the picture, the more children you see crying. Joe Michl’s FIfty Little Orphans (via Boston Public Library)

What possessed the artist to draw fifty young orphans to advertise a cigar I do not know, but the child in the front offering a cigar puts the linchpin in what was just a bizarre piece to begin with.

These children might haunt your nightmares, but at least you’ll get some cigars along with that tingling on the back of your neck that comes from 50 pairs of eyes watching you.

Now for a more humorous card:


It’s like America’s Funniest Home Videos, pre-TV era. (Via Boston Public Library)

We might not know what possessed the well dressed man to stand on a diving board, and experts also don’t suggest smoking a cigar while floating in a pool. But “The New Capadura” has indeed made for a hilarious situation.

There are more normal (and prettier) advertising cards out there, but none are quite so unique as the ones tobacco products inspire.

Which of these ads is your favorite?