Several Elongated Smashed Pennies

All About Elongated Pennies – History, Myths, Pictures

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.

1893 First Smashed Elongated Penny Chicago Worlds Fair
1893 First Smashed Elongated Penny 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.

This is a 2019D Penny that was elongated.

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 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 Unfortunately, some of the data may be out of date.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, 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!

Valentine Nebraska Elongated Penny
Elongated Penny From Valentine Nebraska

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:

Sea Otter Elongated Penny with Zinc Streaks
A Sea Otter Elongated Penny From Santa Cruz, California with Zinc Streaks.

Here is an elongated penny done on a pre-1982 copper penny:

CA Republic Elongated Penny Copper
A Copper Elongated 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.

How To Align Elongated Penny Machine
Center the two arrows to get the design you want.

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:

Poorly Aligned Elongated Penny Las Vegas
Poorly Aligned Elongated Penny

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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CRH Coin Roll Hunting Mats Collecting

What is a Coin Mat and How Do They Work For Coin Roll Hunting?

Laminated coin mats are a great way to keep yourself organized and informed while Coin Roll Hunting!

If you don’t know what coin roll hunting is, I recommend checking out my more in-depth article “What is Coin Roll Hunting”. In brief, coin roll hunting is when a coin collector gets rolls of wrapped coins from the bank in search of treasures.

But how do you know what coins to be looking for? This is the problem which hunting and collecting coin roll sorting maps help you answer!

Note that the blurriness in the image was done intentionally by the seller. The distortion is to prevent copycats. The actual product you receive will be clear and legible.

The laminated mats are 11″x17″ inches, making them the perfect size to work on and they should fit on standard desk sizes. They are also dry-erase friendly, which means you can make notes or mark off denominations that you find.

In one review, a user was disappointed by the thickness of these mats. It’s important to note that these are not as thick as traditional dinner place-setting mats. These were designed to lay flat across a table.

In the center of the map is a 1909 penny, the first year of the wheat cent and one of the most sought after. This space is mostly blank, because this is where you keep the coins you are looking through. I recommend having a magnifying glass with you as well.

To the left and right of the cent you are given information about mintage numbers, double die varieties, valuable pennies, mint mark errors, and miscellaneous errors. These are great stats to have on hand and take you from a beginner coin roll hunter to an advanced one instantly!

Having this information on hand means you don’t need to flip through a big red book of coins to find information on each coin you find. Being faster, means you can go through more coins, which increases your odds of finding a valuable coin!

At the top, there are 32 outlines of circles, these spaces help you keep your coins organized. You can keep the coins you plan on saving in those spots, or stack coins by year.

For a beginner coin roll hunter, I always recommend starting with pennies as there is more to be found, but you can purchase mats for any denomination.

Here’s a list of available mats with links to each one:





Half Dollars:

Dollar Coins:

Do you use a CRH mat and if so, have you found it useful? Vote in our poll and add a comment below!

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn ad revenue from purchases made through Amazon links on my site. This does not increase the price of items linked through my site. My purpose is to inform.

Wooden Penny Close Up Woodgrain

What is a Wooden Penny?

A wooden penny sounds like a coin that George Washington would have used to buy ice cream. (George Washington died in 1799, almost 100 years before the first US wooden penny would have been made.)

A wooden penny can be found in circulation, you have probably held hundreds or thousands of wooden pennies in your lifetime; without even knowing it!

Unlike what the name suggests, a wooden penny contains no wood.

So… What is a Wooden Penny?

A wooden penny, also known as a wood grain penny, is a copper penny with an improper blend of metals.

My 1982 Large Date Wood Penny.

The term is used to describe a striped toning that sometimes appears on copper pennies. The toning appears after many years, and will only show up on pennies where the zinc and copper did not blend properly during production.

When wood pennies were produced, the improperly mixed copper and zinc was rolled into a thin sheet. This rolling caused the zinc to stretch across what would be the surface of the coin.

Since copper tones faster than zinc, the zinc appears darker on the coin, creating the striations that resemble wood grain.

Since it takes weeks to decades for a coin to begin toning. The mint had no way of knowing the coins would develop the wood pattern when they were sent out into circulation.

Are Wooden Pennies Valuable?

Unfortunately, no, these pennies do not command a premium. In fact none of the major coin graders have a classification for wooden pennies.

This could change if demand increases for these pennies. I think the toning makes these coins even more attractive, so I save many wooden pennies I find.

My 1980D Wood Penny

You may be able to find a buyer online who is willing to pay slightly more for a wood grain penny that has a good “eye-appeal”, but it is very subjective.

Are Wooden Pennies Error Coins?

Yes, technically wooden pennies are error coins since the design and composition differs from the ideal look of the coin, and it happened during production.

Here is a quote from PCGS:

“An error is a mistake stemming from the method of manufacturing and can be insignificant or massive… These mistakes can be anything from an inconsistent mixture of the metal that the coin is made from, to planchet-production issues, to striking, and even thereafter.”

According to PCGS

Therefore, yes! A wooden penny is considered an error coin, even though PCGS does not officially grade them as such.

Unfortunately, not all errors are valuable even when they are not graded, as is the case with the wood grain penny.

Does the Wood grain Pattern Only Happen With Pennies?

Not at all! Any coin made with a mix of copper and zinc could have this error. But it must be composed of a blend of zinc and copper, not just copper coated.

You can find the wood grain pattern on: Lincoln cents, Indian Head Pennies, Two Cent Pieces, and Flying Eagle Cents.

Remember how I said George Washington would have been dead before the US penny could have been minted? That is because the Two Cent Piece, minted from 1864-1873, was the first US coin to be minted using copper and zinc. (This mixture was called French bronze at the time.)

Although the oldest possible example for a US coin with a wooden pattern would be from 1864, there have been foreign coins exhibiting the wood grain toning.

US Series Quarter Collectioni

What is the Best Coin to Start Collecting?

If you are a beginner to coin collecting, the sheer amount of information available can be intimidating. Who knew there was so much to know about coins?

If you are looking to start a coin collecting, it’s best to pick one denomination, and then branch out as you grow more confidence. You could begin with ancient Roman coins, but the learning curve is much steeper.

What makes a denomination better for beginners?

Denomination refers to the face value of the coin. When I ask what denomination is best for beginners I am asking whether a beginner should start with pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, etc.

Ideally, a beginner wants a denomination that is exciting and easy to obtain. Some denominations don’t have much variety, this could lead a beginner to think the entire hobby is boring. Some coins, like ancient coins, are harder to get a hold of, this could lead a beginner to spend a lot of money before they become interested.

I recommend pennies or quarters.


A 2019D Penny

Pennies definitely fit the requirement of being easy to obtain. A dollar at the bank gets you 100 pennies to look through! You could even check your couch cushions and probably find a few pennies.

A Whitman Coin Folder from 1941-1974 has 90 penny slots. Which means if you find all the coins by coin roll hunting the whole album would only have cost you 90 cents to fill! (Click Here to Learn More About Coin Roll Hunting.)

The other great thing about pennies is that there are many varieties and errors. Since the year 1900, there have been 4 different penny design. Every time the mint changes design, there is a greater likelihood for errors.


A 2020 D Quarter

There are many different varieties of quarters because of the State Series and National Park Series. From 1999-2008 the US Mint designed and minted a coin for 5 different states, releasing new coins each year. The State Series program was so successful that they created another program for National Parks called the “America the Beautiful Series” which ran from 2010 till 2021.

Quarters are the first coins I ever collected. My grandfather gave me a map of state quarters to fill when I was 9 years old and I still have it in my room.

My first coin collection! The State Series Quarter Map.

If you are starting with quarters, get a folder for the State Quarters and a folder for National Park Quarters. Whitman is a great, well known brand. H&E Harris and Co. is also a good brand. I would stay away from Littleton Coin Company until you know more about coin prices. (Read why here.)


Dollar Coins

A James Madison Dollar Coin

Like quarters, dollar coins have many different designs. The most recent run of dollar coins features Presidents of the United States.

The US government has printed more dollar coins than they know what to do with. Unfortunately, no is using them. So, although you could go to a bank and get dollar coins, they are rarely seen in circulation.

Part of the fun of other coins is the speculation of what the coins may be worth 100 years from now. At the current rate, modern dollar coins will likely be easy to find in uncirculated condition, making their price unlikely to rise.

Of course, you could collect older dollar coins like the Morgan and Peace dollars. These are great coins, every beginner should get one eventually just to feel the satisfying weight of it in your hand. But, the cheapest of these coins range from $16-$23. I think it’s best to have some more coin knowledge before jumping into such expensive coins.

Nickels and Dimes

Nickels and dimes all suffer the same flaw for me in terms of recommending them to beginners. Both in modern years are pretty boring. There are several key dates and rare errors, but not as many as pennies and quarters.

A 2017D Nickel

The redeeming factor for nickels is the Buffalo Nickel and the Wartime Nickels. These are fun coins to find! If a coin collector wants to begin with nickels, then I would suggest starting with Buffalo Nickels.

Dimes have had the same design since 1946. Don’t get me wrong, the Roosevelt design is great! But I am getting a little tired of it. The only big change in the Roosevelt dime happened in 1965 when the switched from a mainly silver composition to a copper and nickel composition.

A 2020D Dime

A new collector interested in dimes should look into Mercury dimes. Mercury dimes, due to their small size, are the cheapest silver coin to collect. Plus, they are gorgeous.

What coins did you first collect? Vote in the poll below and add a comment!

Collection of Assorted US Cents Colorful Background

What is Coin Roll Hunting?

Coin Roll Hunting for Beginners

I had not been a coin collector long before I heard of coin roll hunting, and it sounded so exciting! I imagined trekking out into a forest in search of old forgotten coins.

Coin roll hunting is not that exciting, but it is a great activity!

Coin roll hunting, abbreviated CRH, is when you get wrapped rolls of coins from the bank and open them in search of certain coins. Some people coin roll hunt to fill Whitman albums while others look for valuable and rare coins.

How to get started

First, you will want to head to the bank and ask for a few rolls of coins. I would recommend starting out with pennies as there are many varieties and a greater chance of finding something old.

Pennies come from the bank in rolls of 50 cents. 10 rolls is a good starting number, so you will ask the banker for 5 dollars in pennies. Bring something to carry them like a plastic bag or a small box! And ask the banker for some coin roll wrappers so that you can re-roll your coins after.

Set yourself up at a desk or table. You will want to have with you: a trash can, a box for discarded pennies, a magnifying glass, a bright light, and a box for pennies you want to keep.

To open the rolls will depend on the type of coin roll wrapper the banker gave you. If the tops are crimped, with a thinner paper, then those are bank wrapped rolls. You can open bank wrapped rolls by tearing them in the middle. The paper is not reusable.

If you can take the coins out simply by unfolding the top of the paper, then those are hand wrapped rolls. Hand wrapped rolls are great because you can reuse the paper. (Plus, coin wrapped rolls are more likely to be part of someones old collection.)

Make sure to look at each coin carefully. When you start coin roll hunting, you will know very little about what makes a coin valuable, but your knowledge will grow. The goal of your first round of coin roll hunting is to get comfortable with what each coin looks like so you can spot anomalies.

Set aside any coins that are old or look different so that you can research them later.

What to look for when coin roll hunting?

This will not be a comprehensive list, as there are so many different varieties or coins and errors. But in general,

Pennies minted before 1982 are all made of copper. Some collectors keep pre-1982 pennies for their copper value. If you decide to do this, make sure you have a lot of space available.

A Circulated Wheat Back Penny

Look for Wheat back pennies. These pennies were minted from 1909 to 1956. The obverse (fancy word for the front of the coin) is the same Abraham Lincoln image used today. The reverse has the words “ONE CENT” surrounded by two leaves of wheat.

As of 2020, I usually find about 1 wheat back penny for every 300 pennies.

Indian Head Pennies are more rare, but can sometimes be found. Indian Head Pennies have an image of Lady Liberty in a Native American headdress on the front, and “ONE CENT” surrounded by either a laurel or oak wreath depending on the year.

Nickels are my second favorite coin to coin roll hunt for. Since only two years of nickels have been made of silver in the last century, very few people look through nickels.

Hunt for wartime nickels. These were minted from 1942-1943. Since nickel was in high demand for artillery in World War II, the US Mint used silver instead of nickel. With a composition of about 35% silver, silver Wartime nickels are worth more than 5 cents.

Buffalo nickels were produced from 1913-1938. There are no silver in these nickels, but are regarded for their design. The buffalo nickel is one of the most iconic designs in US history. Due to poor design on the date, however, some dates are difficult to find in good condition. Look for buffalo nickels with clear dates.

Dimes are very quick to search through, but very hard to find anything rare in.

Any dime minted before 1965 is made of 90% silver. So, any dime 1964 and older is worth more than 10 cents. Unfortuntely, many of these have already been taken out of circulation. You will likely have to go through thousands of dimes before finding a silver one.

A Small Collection of Silver Dimes

From 1916 to 1945, the US Mint printed Mercury dimes. These are gorgeous silver dimes depicting lady liberty in a phrygian cap. These are worth their value in silver, and probably slightly more since they are highly regarded by coin collectors.

Quarters are great for kids, as there are so many varieties in the State and National Parks designs. You can spend hours trying to fill a coin folder. Quarters are a great way to get children interested in coins.

A 1964 Silver Quarter.

Searching through quarters for silver is a very difficult endeavor. As with dimes, any quarter before 1965 is 90% silver. Because they are worth much more in silver, most older quarters have already been taken out of circulation.

In all coins:

Check for the ‘S’ mint mark. The ‘S’ mint mark means a coin was minted in San Fransisco. This mint produced very few coins for circulation, so the ‘S’ mint mark adds to the rarity of the coin.

Proofs! Proof coins are a special strike of coin meant to be sold in proof sets. Although originally sold in hard, plastic containers, many were broken out of these containers and can be found in circulation. It can be hard to differentiate a proof coin from an uncirculated coin. Check for the ‘S’ mint mark, as all proofs are minted in San Fransisco.

Remember all proofs are minted in San Fransisco, but not every coin minted in San Fransisco is a proof.

What to do with coins you don’t want?

You will probably end your search with many more coins you want to get rid of than to keep. Coin roll hunting is a numbers game, you find more valuable coins by searching through as many as you can.

Getting rid of coins is the biggest hassle of coin roll hunting. There are two ways most coin roll hunters get rid of their coins.

Most common, is to re-roll all the coins and bring them back to the bank. This is easy for smaller amounts, but is tedious in large quantities. Plus, not all bank tellers appreciate having to give out coins that are being brought back the next day.

Another option is to take all the coins to a coin counting machine. The most common coin counting machine is a CoinStar. CoinStars are super easy to use, but if you want the money back in cash, you have to pay an 11% fee. You can get the money put on a gift-card in most locations. Check if your local CoinStar offers Amazon gift cards, as they are the most versatile.

If you are super lucky your bank will have it’s own coin counting machine. This is much better than a CoinStar because they are usually free to use. In fact, if a local bank has a coin counting machine it may be worth opening an account with them just to use the machine.

Are you a Coin Roll Hunter? Share your best finds in the comments below!

If you are looking for help getting started, check out: