Sunday, August 19, 2012

See a Penny, Press it Flat

Back on Coney Island Day, I was childishly excited to score a Pressed Penny from Deno's Wonder Wheel for my collection. 

When I was a kid, the Press-a-Penny machines seemed to be everywhere, and I may have collected a few*. I assumed that the pressed pennies (officially called elongated coinswere a 1990s American fad, but it turns out that they date back to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. 

In retrospect, I should have realized that this was an older tradition, as the process isn't exactly advanced technology. A coin is deposited into a rolling mill consisting of two steel rollers pressed against each other. One of the rollers is a die with an engraved designed. The new image is imprinted into the metal as the coin passes through it with sufficient force. The coin is flattened into an elongated oval in the process. Pressing pennies is legal in the United States.

I have over 50 flattened pennies (+2 flattened euros). Only about half of these I pressed personally. Many were brought back to me by friends and family from all over the World. Favorites include Route 66, Statue of David from Florence, Cedar Point, and Jack Daniels #7 from Tennessee.

I'll still trot over to a Press-a-Penny machine when I see one**. It isn't often that you can't get a souviner for 50 cents (sometimes I'll pay a dollar, but I'll never do the machine's that are more than that). I love the opportunity to choose the print, then turn the crank and watch the penny from my very own pocket become something specific to that moment. 

Oh wow, looking me getting all sentimental of a bunch of flattened coins. How so decidedly unlike me. Too bad there isn't a Press-a-Penny machine around to commemorate this moment. 

* What I like about Pressed Pennies as a collection item is - they take up, like, no room whatsoever when they accumulate!
**I think my past ties to the Press-a-Penny machine explain my proclivity towards the Smooshed Face Mold-a-Rame Lion in Wonderfalls. (no idea what I'm talking about? It's time you realized that Wonderfalls was way ahead of it's time and canceled much too prematurely.)

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