Side View Flying Eagle IHP

What is a Fatty Indian Head Penny?

It’s rude to call anyone a fatty, unless you are talking about the fatty Indian Head Penny (IHP).

The fatty Indian Head Penny refers to pennies minted from 1854-1864 when the pennies had a bigger diameter and were thicker. The 1856-1858 Flying Eagle Cents are also “Fatty” pennies.

  • Fatty Cent Weight: ~4.67 grams
  • Regular Cent Weight: ~3.11 grams

I don’t own a fatty Indian Head Penny, but I do have an 1857 Flying Eagle Cent we can use for comparison.

Flying Eagle and IHP obverse
Left: 1857 “Fatty” Flying Eagle Cent, Right: 1888 Indian Head Penny.

From above it is hard to see a difference between the size two coins. The 1857 Flying Eagle Cent has the same diameter as the 1888 Indian Head Penny.

When we look from the side, however, we can really see where “fatty” cents got their name:

Fatty Flying Eagle Cent vs Indian Head Penny

The Fatty Flying Eagle Cent is about 75% thicker than the regular cent. If these coins were being renamed today we would call fatty cents “chonky cents” instead.

Here is the reverse of these two coins:

Flying Eagle IHP Reverse Indian Head Penny
Flying Eagle Cent Reverse vs Indian Head Penny Reverse

Share any comments or questions in the comments below!

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!

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn ad revenue on sales made through my links. This does not increase the price of any item linked through my site. My main goal 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.

Nickel with Soap, Lemon, Baking Soda

Cleaning Coins is Actually Bad For Them (with pictures!)

Post on any coin forum asking how to clean your coins and you will be accosted with angry coin collectors tell you to absolutely not try to clean them. There is good reason for this.

Although a cleaned coin may look better to the human eye, it actually damages the coin.

After being exposed to oxygen, water, and other elements in circulation, coins develop a patina. The patina is a thin layer of green or brown film caused by oxidation on the surface of the metal.

Cleaning a coin involves removing the thin layer of patina on the top of the coin to expose the shiny metal below. From afar, the coin would be shinier and look newer.

In reality, the cleaned coin now has very small scratched called micro-abrasions. These small scratches hurt the coins value for most collectors. Plus, by giving the coin a more scratched surface, the coin is now more prone to oxidation.

Here are the coins I will be using to show the different cleaning methods sometimes prescribed.

1.) 196(?)D Nickel – Dish Soap, Sponge, Lemon, and Baking Soda

This coin was the worst of the bunch. I could only barely make out the first part of the year (maybe 1968 or 1969?).

Since this coin was the worst of the bunch, I decided to use the most abrasive cleaning methods on it.

First I used a sponge with Dawn Dish soap aggressively on the surface of the coin. As I ran hot water over the coin I continued to rub in circular motions.

After this, it looked a bit cleaner, but I decided to get some chemistry involved and let the coin sit in lemon and baking soda before I rubbed it with a Q-tip.

The obverse of the coin after cleaning.

The coins look ever so slightly better after being cleaned. However, the amount of long term-damage done is not worth the small increase in eye-appeal. The date was still illegible after cleaning.

2.) 1986D Penny – Lemon and Baking Soda

For the 1986D, I put the penny in a small glass ramequin with fresh lemon juice and added about half a tablespoon of baking soda. I could tell something was happening as the concoction began to fizz!

Penny soaked in lemon juice and baking soda.

After letting the coin sit in the mixture a minute, I flipped it over so it could effect the coin evenly. Once that side was done I took the coin out to rub it with a Q-tip.

The coin certainly came out much shinier! If I had been more aggressive with the Q-tip, I could have gotten it much cleaner.

The obverse before (left) and after (right).
The reverse before (left) and after (right).

Much shinier of course, but you can still see small sections where the q-tip scratched the surface of the coin.

3.) 2000D New Hampshire Quarter – Acetone and a Q-tip

This coin was pretty clean already. Just a few blemishes keeping it from looking like new. For this quarter, I decided to go for a gentler cleaning method.

I took a Q-tip, dipped it in acetone, and used gentle circular motions on the surface of the coin.


This worked effectively and quickly, removing dark spots in the corners of the coin. Here is the before and after comparison:

(Sorry! The before image is not very clear.)
Again, not very clear image. Sorry!

4.) 1995D Penny – Acetone ONLY

If I had to recommend a way to “clean” a coin, this would be it. Acetone, also known as propanone, only dissolves organic materials. It can help dissolve glue, wax, and plastic.

This penny looks to be experiencing copper rot, more formally known as bronze disease. This occurs when copper comes into contact with chloride. You can tell by the green and white spots on the surface of the coin.

(Coins can also be affected by verdigris which is very similar, but I suspect this is bronze disease because of the white spots along with the green.)

To use acetone and minimize damage to the coin, you need to use 100% pure acetone. Don’t use nail polish remover as it includes coloring and fragrances that could affect your coin.

Keep pour the acetone into a glass jar or bowl. Put the coin into the acetone and try to move the coin as little as possible. You do not want the coin to scratch across the glass.

Penny in acetone in a glass bowl.

I would lightly swish the acetone around, but not enough to move the coin. After about 5 minutes I flipped the coin over and let it soak for another 5 minutes.

When taking the coin out of the acetone make sure to let it AIR DRY. Do not pat the coin dry with any material as this can also cause small abrasions. Acetone dries very quickly.

Obverse before (left) and after (right).
Reverse before (left) and after (right).

The obverse of our 1995D penny actually looks slightly worse after the acetone bath. The acetone ate away organic material on the top layer of the coin to help reveal the zinc below.

Even acetone cannot save a damaged coin, but it doesn’t hurt the metal when done properly. (Some people claim that leaving copper in acetone for too long can damage the coin, I don’t recommend leaving a penny in acetone for longer than a half hour.)


I know that by showing coins going from dirty to clean it may look like I am promoting for people to clean their coins. On the contrary, I think it is important for collectors to know that a cleaner coin is not necessarily better.

If a coin looks suspiciously clean for its age, then look carefully! Check for small scratches on the surface that could indicate cleaning. Get a magnifying glass of some kind to check for tiny abrasions that follow similar circular patterns.

Look at all the small scratches on this quarter!

If you have a coin that is both dirty and valuable, you can submit it to a professional coin service like PCGS or NGC to have it professionally cleaned (also referred to as restoration or conservation).

Have you ever cleaned a coin? Vote in our poll or comment below!

(Interested in more polls? Check out our poll page!)

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!

Coins on Wrappers

Is Coin Roll Hunting Profitable?

Coin roll hunting is like a sport for numismatists. I have spent countless hours with boxes of coins searching for anything that would make a good addition to my collection.

Whether you are a coin collector or not, you have probably wondered if you can make money by coin roll hunting. It sounds easy on paper, simply find a valuable coin and cash in on potentially thousands of dollars!

In reality, few people make money coin roll hunting. The good news, is that you can coin roll hunt without losing any money and increase your potential for making money.

First, know what to look for.

Each denomination has its own unique characteristics that add value. As you begin searching, you will have to at the same time increase your knowledge of coins.

You can look for silver, errors, and low mintage numbers. Silver is easiest to learn, as you can usually go by the year. Quarters and dimes minted before 1965 are all 90% silver. Profit!

Errors are more difficult. Errors are damage that happen while the coin is being minted. There is almost never any extra value added to coins damaged after they have left the mint. A flaw that the coin obtains after it has left the mint is called post-mint damage, or PMD. Learning about the process of how coins are made will make it easier to know what kind of error you have.

Low mintage coins can be in very high demand. You can make decent money by selling these coins on Ebay. To know what coins are low-mintage you can look at the mintage numbers online or use a book that tells you the mintage numbers. Remember, to check the mintage you need the coins year and where it was minted.

How to cut down costs.

You want to reduce costs so that even if you don’t find any valuable coins, you can return the coins to the bank for the same value you got them for.

First, get your coins from the bank. It may be tempting to buy ‘unsearched’ coin rolls on Ebay, but this is the more expensive route. Sellers will charge you for shipping which is expensive, then they add a premium for calling the roll ‘unsearched’. It is very rare that the roll you buy off Ebay is actually un-searched, and even more rare that you will find anything valuable.

When you are done searching, wrap the rolls yourself by hand to return them to the bank. You can get coin wrappers on Amazon in bulk for decent prices, or ask your banker for coin roll wrappers.

Coin Roll Wrappers: Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters

If you are looking to make money off this hobby, I would not recommend using a CoinStar. Although CoinStar’s are convenient, they are very expensive. If you do opt to use a CoinStar, convert the coins into a gift-card instead of cash to avoid the 11% fee. You could also donate the money to charity and use it as a tax write off.

Is it worth it to save copper pennies?

One way hunters try to make money is by saving all pre-1982 pennies. Pennies minted before 1982 are made of 95% copper and only 5% zinc. Depending on the price of copper, a penny could be worth more than a penny.

Although this sounds easy, there are many logistical problems.

You would need a lot of pennies to make any money at the current price. As of today, the best price for copper is about $2.75/lb. You would need 153 pennies to have a pound of copper. So, you would have a profit of about $1.22 cents per pound of pennies.

That means you would need about 82 pounds of pennies to make $100. If that sounds easy to you, also consider that you would have to store and transport 82 pounds of pennies. (Plus, 2.75 is for very pure copper, you may get less for pennies unless you purify them yourself.)

If you believe strongly that copper prices will go up considerably, then hoard copper pennies. If it sounds like too much work then don’t lose any sleep over returning copper pennies to the bank.

But is Coin Roll Hunting Profitable?

In general, I would say it is not as profitable as most people hope. It does however, not cost anything when done correctly.

Most coins are only worth a few cents or dollars over face value, barely enough to cover the cost of selling. You could likely make more money flipping coins.

I love and completely recommend coin roll hunting, but do it because you love coins, not to make a quick buck.