Any tourist trap worth its salt should have a penny smasher! The penny is such an underrated coin in this regard. My favorite souvenirs while traveling are flattened pennies and I’ve recently learned I’m not the only one. I had never thought to Google penny rolling machines before but I’m glad I finally have. I’ve found a plethora of information about them and multiple companies that manufacture the machines. I kind of want to own one. Badly. This post is going to be lame and dorky…
First off, I find it unbelievably awesome that flattened pennies, or rather elongated coins, have their own wiki page. When I Googled “penny smasher” 134,000 results appeared. I have my finance final this week. How am I suppose to study now? Did you know that there are three distinct periods of elongated coin production? We are fortunate to be living in the time of the “Contemporary Elongateds.” I almost cried when I learned that there was an Elongated Coin Museum in Olympia, WA but it closed down last year. That could have been my Mecca. I would pray to it every night, asking it to send me on road trips to the silliest of destinations. Once a year I would make a pilgrimage to renew my traveler’s soul and cleanse me of being too serious.
Apparently collecting elongated coins has gone out of fashion (if it was ever actually in fashion). Most of the personal collectors’ pages I’ve found are dead links or Anglefire homepages that haven’t been updated in the last decade. There seems to be one exception, The Elongated Collectors website boasting “over 650 members in several countries.” These guys are serious! A group founded in 1966, they go to conventions, have bylaws, newsletters, membership fees, and sell or trade coins. While I appreciate their enthusiasm, I don’t understand buying or trading the coins online. For me serendipitous finds on trips are what these are all about.
I also recently discovered the Penny Collector website. This windfall is a real boon for me! I was so excited that shortly after discovering it, I ran out with a mess of quarters and a few pennies in my pocket to an unknown-by-me flattener not far from my house. Not only did I get three new pennies, one of the coins taught me that the Delaware state animal is the grey fox.
What this find brings to me is that I can now cross check it with my 2017 trip and mark on the map where these machines can be found. The finds won’t be as happenstance as usual, but it will aid me in my search for silly souvenirs. I was hoping to come back with a dozen new pennies, now I’m starting to think I could get a couple dozen.
This post was meant to showcase the collection I’ve created in my life but all the ones from my childhood have disappeared into otherworldly vortexes under my bed, in couch cushions, and lint filled pockets. Now I’m kind of embarrassed because my collection is seriously lacking in comparison to serious EC collectors. I guess that means I have to step up my game.
The vast majority of my collection was gathered at the multiple Disney World Resort locations. That place is flush with penny smashers. Much like everything with Disney fanatics, these have become a major collectable for die hard visitors. I typically don’t get every option out of these machines, only the ones that really speak to me. These are the myriad of elongated coins I brought back from my trip to the happiest place on Earth.
This second set is from various adventures through my neighbor state Pennsylvania. Note that the Philly Zoo was the first in America. Feel free to giggle at the “I ♥ Intercourse” penny. The Lake Tobias coin has a great image of the topless school bus I spoke about in my previous post.
In 2014 I took a trip to Phoenix, AZ. From there I headed south to visit a friend in Sierra Vista which should have been a quick 3 hour drive. I got derailed and had to take an hour and half long detour to see The Thing?! In a Burma Shave-esque advertisement scheme, the owners of The Thing? planted mysterious billboards along the highway. The siren call was just too much for me and I peeled rubber down Hwy 10 to see a museum of odd attached to a gas station and gift shop. I regret nothing.
On my most recent road trip I found one of the best coins in my collection. The “I Got Smashed At The ‘OLDE GENERAL STORE’ in Cave City, Kentucky” is pure class and adequately represents the store in which it was found. When I first saw it I didn’t have any quarters and had to go back the next day. Each time I entered the old, bearded man who I think owned the place would ask “Where are you from?” Upon hearing my answer of Delaware he would respond “Well come in anyway.”
These two gems come from the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls, one of my favorite destinations. I love the U.S. and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but Canada does the Falls better than we do. Arcades, several haunted houses, mini-golf (both black light and dinosaur themed), and 4D movie theaters are so much better than just a little, barren park. Sorry but it’s a fact.
This olio of coins represents two places I love and a trip I’m not sure I remember. South of the Border on the North/South Carolina border is the kind of place I look for on the road. It’s garish and full of needless souvenirs. Where else can you visit a reptile farm, buy fireworks, and eat a bad taco without moving your car? Probably Mexico…
In my previous post I mentioned Oglebay and how I’ve been going there all my life. Because of the great memories, this coin obviously means a lot to me.
The middle coin is from Colorado. The last time I was in Colorado was about 10 years ago while helping my friend move from Los Angeles to Michigan. We hauled all his belongings and race car halfway across the nation. I honestly don’t remember getting this coin but there it is for all the internet to see.
These next two are from the Baltimore Inner Harbor. It’s a great place with lots to do and see. Fortunately its only an hour away from my house. This summer I went to see the newest exhibit at the Museum of Visionary Art and found these lovely pennies in a nearby shopping plaza.
Another great place close to my house is Rehoboth Beach. It’s small but with a nice boardwalk (complete with haunted house ride), it’s clean, and it’s friendly. I was lucky enough to find two of the coins hidden in the middle of an arcade. The rest were from a machine out on the street next to a souvenir shop. If you ever find your way to Rehoboth make sure to try Thrashers Fries and Grotto Pizza. Grotto Pizza is not for everyone. It is not where I go when I’m craving pizza, it’s where I go when I’m craving Grotto Pizza. They make it partially with cheddar cheese making it greasy and great. Also be on the lookout for Foo Fighters/Nirvana musician Dave Grohl, a frequent visitor.
While the pennies are the ultimate goal, I do love how varied the machines can be. Some need a crank or wheel turned to press the penny while some only need a button pushed and the machine does all the work. For most I’ve seen you need to provide your own penny (which I prefer) but others are pre-loaded with pennies. At a few stops, the nice owners put out a small bucket with pennies in it should you be short. Even the housings can be different. Below are just a few options I found at manufacturer websites.
Flooded with all of this new information I have a lot of reading and researching to do. I need to focus on incorporating penny pressing locations into my many maps. I’m so excited about all of this that I’m toying with becoming a member of The Elongated Collectors. I’ve even been searching Ebay to find out the cost of a used machine (so far I can’t find any). I prefaced this post with a warning that it would be dorky. It’s your own fault if you read this far.