Want to get started with penny pressing? Penny press souvenirs are available in many popular vacation destinations. Bring home a lightweight, portable and low-cost reminder of your next travel adventure.
Travel souvenirs come in many shapes and sizes. Some people collect patches for their backpacks, others collect stickers for their luggage. You may come home with magnets to post on your refrigerator or shot glasses to place on your shelves to remind you of the places you have visited.
If you have visited a theme park attraction, iconic skyscraper, or a large zoo or aquarium, you may have seen large machines, for penny press souvenirs, also known as elongated coins. An elongated coin is made by taking a penny and forcing it between two rollers, which leaves an imprint and engraved mark on the penny. Many penny pressing machines have up to four selections from which to choose. The imprint selections vary by machine and location, but often tend to reflect images of the city or landmark. Avid collectors of the penny press definitely collect the entire set.
Insider Tip: If you visit the same location, know that machines change imprints frequently. New images are continuously being introduced. New machines also pop up in different locations.
Believe it or not, this hobby has been around for over 100 years. The hobby is also seen outside the United States, including the United Kingdom and many countries in the European Union.
Start Collecting from a Penny Press
Children love pennies, and the best way to surprise a niece or nephew when you come to visit is to showcase where you’ve been on one of their favorite collecting coins, the penny. It’s inexpensive for you and totally valuable to them. So, if for no other reason than to see their little faces light up with joy, we have a few other reasons as well:
- First, it is a very affordable hobby. The fee is usually 50 cents (two quarters), a low cost compared to other items to purchase at the airport or souvenir shops.
- Second, if you do not want to worry about packaging or wrapping items that may break in travel, consider that the coins are very lightweight and portable. No special packing is required. Many locations offer a penny collectors’ album, to slide in your elongated coins for easy storage. The book is about the size of a 5×7-inch frame with 8-10 double-sided pages. If you do not want to use the album, consider using an old pillbox or candy tube for storage.
- Third, the variety and continuous changes, which make it a unique and stimulating hobby.
- Last, it is accessible for everyone and for all ages.
Getting Started with the Penny Press
To get started, you can bring pennies you have at home or can request bank-wrapped rolls (or customer-wrapped rolls) of coins at a local bank. You will also need quarters to pay the fee to smash the coins. As mentioned, most locations require two quarters as the fee to use the machine and obtain the imprint.
Look up machines in the cities or near the landmarks you are visiting, or along the route. You can search the Machine Map of the United States via zip code or city, at pennypresses.net. They have more than 3,300 machines mapped out for your convenience. This site provides the location, a Google map view, and a description of the penny imprints. For a more list-based view, including international locations, go to pennycollector.com. This site provides, by country or state, a full listing with images by location. (Who knew?)
Insider Tip: Start a jar at home for loose coins. Separate out the pennies before your trip.
Fun Facts about the Penny Press
If penny pressing sounds like a new hobby you would like to try, here are some fun facts:
- The official name of the national organization is the Elongated Collectors (TEC).
- The Elongated Collectors also recommend you use pennies made prior to 1982. According to them, the darker color of the copper and zinc from prior to 1982 allows designs to show up more clearly. Pennies, then, were made of 95 percent copper. The years 1962-1982 are considered the best pennies to use.
- The obverse is the head side of a coin. The reserve is the coin’s tail side. For penny pressing, either side works for engraving.
- A numismatist is an individual who studies and collects coins.
Insider Tip: Once pressed, it is not intended that you use the penny or coin for currency. Coins may age over time. Use a pencil eraser to clean and shine up the penny.
Penny Press Theme Park Souvenirs
For Disney fans, bring a few stacks of pennies. Disneyland has over 150 choices. Universal Studios has over 80. Sea World in Orlando has over 100. Try to make a scavenger hunt out of finding multiple machines. Disney in California may have fewer machines and selections but offers you the option press dimes and quarters at some machines.
Read More: Saving for a Disney Vacation
Begin Your New Penny Press Tradition Today
If this hobby and activity sound like a good way to trace your vacation imprints and bring home pieces of your travels that will last, think about seeking out a penny press machine wherever life takes you. Think about all the landmarks you visit and the cities you travel, all of them showcasing important facts and giving insight into geography and history. As mentioned, the penny pressing machines change and evolve, much as cities do, to reflect the current landmark and place. So, you’ll rarely have two of the same penny press gems to collect.
Insider Tip: Some people select pennies with a year that is special to them. For example, selecting the year of birth or an anniversary year.
Read More: Travel Tips Around the World with Kids
Coin collecting can be an exciting hobby for you and your family and begins with extra coins you may have in your wallet right now or in your change jar at home. So, just go pass by that penny press machine, pop in one (or four), and make a pretty penny collection out of it. Happy travels and happy collecting!
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