Elongated pennies also known as: smashed pennies, crushed pennies, pressed pennies. Elongated pennies are pieces of exonumia meant to be used as souvenirs to commemorate people, places, or events.
The first elongated penny was introduced at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Below is a photo of one of the first elongated pennies from the Chicago World’s Fair.
Are Elongated Pennies Illegal?
NO! This myth has been around for decades and it is not true. Elongated pennies are not illegal to make or to own.
Although making elongated pennies is technically mutilation, as defined by the US Code Title 18, mutilation of US coinage is not illegal unless the intent is to use the mutilated coin for counterfeiting or for use of the base metal.
I once heard a woman claim that smashed penny machines do not actually use the penny you put in to make the souvenir, she claimed the machine instead used blanks of copper. This is also not true and easily disproved.
If you put a penny into an elongated penny machine, you will notice the resulting elongated coin has the same color, and sometimes you can even make out the same date and mintmark, like in the coin above!
Where can you find elongated penny machines?
Elongated Penny machines are easy to find in most tourist-y areas (and some non-tourist areas!). Museums, gift shops, arcades, adventure parks, and wildlife areas are all common places to find pressed penny machines.
A good resource is PennyCollector.com which has a list of pressed penny machines submitted by users. Oftentimes, it also lists the designs available as well. Unfortunately, some of the data may be out of date.
Disneyland is a great place to start a pressed penny collection. According to ParkPennies.com, Disneyland Resort has over 155 pressed penny designs spread throughout the park!
You can even buy an elongated penny book specifically for Disney smashed pennies! This is a great cheap souvenir for kids, and it is a fun adventure to find them all.
Although tourist attractions are more likely to have pressed penny machines, you can find these machines in many different locations, some you wouldn’t expect.
During a cross country road-trip, I found a pressed penny machine in a gas station in Valentine, Nebraska. Valentine is a city with a population of less than 3,000!
What are they worth?
I have not been able to find a direct answer on whether or not banks will accept elongated pennies as mutilated currency. It seems as if it is up to the discretion of the bank, although it seems very unlikely the bank will accept them.
If you have several elongated pennies, you could probably get more money selling them online instead of trying to return them to a bank. Although not worth a fortune, a bulk lot of elongated pennies will usually sell for about 50 cents to 1 dollar per smashed penny.
How to store elongated pennies
The best way to store elongated pennies for easy travel on trips is an elongated coin album. These can be purchased online or at most gift shops.
I currently have the “United States Penny Collector” elongated penny album, and it has worked great. Plus it comes with an elongated penny!
My one complaint with this book is that it is too small! It has room for 44 pennies, which is a decent size for a beginner or for someone collecting on one trip, but if you plan to collect for a few years, then I would recommend a bigger album.
This is the elongated penny album I plan to upgrade to for my next trip. It holds 146 elongated coins, has a pocket to keep quarters and pennies in, and a journal section to keep track of your finds! (Plus, it comes in different colors!)
If you prefer not to store them in an album, or would like to create your own album, you can also buy cardboard penny flips. This is another great storage method, but not very convenient for traveling as you will also need a stapler.
I store my pennies mostly so I don’t lose track of them. I do not expect these pennies to appreciate much in value, so I am not worried about their condition.
Tips for using a pressed penny machine
It is possible to use a pressed penny machine wrong and come out with a less than desirable coin. First, I would recommend using a penny dated before 1982. These pennies are 95% and reduce your chances of getting zinc streaks.
Below is an image of an elongated penny with zinc streaks:
Here is an elongated penny done on a pre-1982 copper penny:
The most important tip to ensure a quality elongated penny is to center the arrows together on the machine. This ensures that your design is centered correctly on the penny while it is being rolled and pressed. Here is a drawing depicting what this means.
This would result in the user getting design 1. To get design 2, the user would rotate the lever or crank so that the gear with the designs rotates 90 degrees.
If you don’t properly align the arrows, you will get an elongated penny that looks like this:
Can you buy an elongated penny machine?
Yes! Although they are very expensive, it could prove to be a good source of passive income for your business.
The Penny Press Machine Co. sells elongated penny machines starting at $4,950. At 50 cents profit per use, you would need customers to buy 9,900 pressed pennies to break even. That is about 27 customers a day for a year.
More important however, is that it gets customers into the store. Plus, you could put a design onto the machine with your logo and start creating brand awareness.
What was your favorite elongated penny design you’ve found. Post a comment below and vote in our poll!
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