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Day 6 of the 20 Days of Me!

20 Days of Me - Day 6 - Collections
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Day 6 is all about collections!

Do you collect anything?

I am a bit of a packrat so I am always collecting, even unintentionally.  But I do have a couple purposeful collections.  Of these, squashed pennies are the main one.

What is it about these flattened pennies that makes me want them so much?  Could it be their low price?  The interactive nature of creating one?  The thrill of the hunt to find a machine?  The small size of the souvenir?  Probably all of the above to be honest.  I can’t help it.  I’ve been collecting since I was a kid and I just love them!

At this point you may be wondering what a squashed penny is.  Well, let me tell you…

They go by many names – smashed, flattened, squished, squashed, pinched, or pressed – all different names for an elongated coin.  According to Wikipedia, an elongated coin is a coin that has been flattened or stretched and embossed with a new design.  The very first squashed pennies in America were made for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. My pennies are all from the “contemporary elongateds” period (c. 1988 to present).

Now let me show you…

a collection of squashed pennies displayed in special collector albums
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Nestled all snug in their special albums… my squashed penny collection doesn’t take up much room on the shelf but it holds lots of fun memories of places I’ve been.
a collection of squashed pennies on a table including pennies from Billy the Kid Museum and the National Scouting Museum
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The latest additions to my collection… here are the pennies I got on our last Big Trip.  I had a few problems with the machine in Deadwood and after two tries had to give up. The first time I was spinning the handle backwards and ended up with only a tip of the image once I realized my mistake. The second time I forgot to select the image I wanted so I decided to cut my losses and walk away with the penny (and a half!) that I had. Unfortunately I had no dignity left to walk away with but oh well!

This video has a history of elongated coins…

My personal penny-collecting factoids:

  1. I prefer the machines that require manually turning the handle.  The automatic machines feel like cheating.
  2. I’m a cheapskate.  Sometimes I refuse to get a penny if the machine costs $1 instead of 50 cents.  Anything over a dollar and I’m definitely not getting one.  If I do decide to buy the $1 penny, you can believe I’ll complain about the price! The one exception to this price rule is the $5 I spent to buy a penny for Bella at the Superman Museum in Metropolis, IL.  The pennies were created off-site by a private roller then sold at the museum at a big mark-up.
  3. My kids know how much I love the penny machines so they always point them out to me.
  4. I try to keep quarters and pennies in my wallet at all times in case I find a penny machine.  This is especially true if I know I have a trip coming up.  You don’t want to be around when I find a machine and don’t have the proper coins!
  5. I rarely get more than one penny from the machine.  I choose which design I like the best and only get that one.  If I return to a machine on a future trip, I have to try to remember which one I don’t have yet.
  6. I only like to keep pennies that I got myself from a place that I’ve actually been.
  7. I dream of the day that I find the squashed pennies from my childhood.  No idea where they ended up but I’m guessing in a box somewhere, maybe at my mom’s house.  Or lost forever.  But I’m holding out hope that they’re just hiding.
special albums to hold elongated coins
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Many gift shops that have a penny machine also sell albums to hold the pennies.
two penny machines - a hand-crank version and an electric version - both make elongated coins
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Here are two different penny machines… the one on the left is the manual-crank version and on the right is an automatic machine.

Other fun facts about squashed pennies:

Go to this link to read 10 Things You Never Knew About Pressed Pennies.  A couple of my favorites are that it takes over 5,000 pounds of pressure to make the penny and that Disneyland has 40 different penny machines (with 3 designs each, that’s 120 squashed pennies just from Disney!).

Here’s a video that shows the inside of a machine and a little about how it works.

Just for fun… a classic 80s music video of Lionel Richie singing Penny Lover.  Go ahead, sing along.  I always do.

Squished Penny Museum

This museum in Washington, DC is closed.  Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the museum before it closed.  I found this awesome video though about the museum so it’s almost like being there.  It’s absolutely worth the time to take a virtual field trip, in my opinion.

My other collections…

Okay, enough about pennies.  Here’s a quick look at a couple of my other collections.

  1. Mice – Because of my nickname (read all about it in My Name is Mouse), I have a few mouse-related items.  I have purged a lot of the knick-knacks through my various moves over the years but I do have several mouse Christmas ornaments remaining.  I also enjoy reading books with mice as characters. And of course, we can’t forget about Vacation Mouse!
  2. Winnie-the-Pooh – Pooh is my main bear, as you know from reading my Goodbye Christopher Robin post or my Bear Behind the Bear post, and he has been for most of my life. Other than Pooh himself, I have several wall hangings and other Pooh-related items around the house. What can I say? He makes me smile.
  3. Stamps – Okay so this isn’t really a collection. I don’t keep canceled stamps and I don’t have them in a book or anything, but I really enjoy buying cool stamps to use on my outgoing mail. Apparently the US Postal Service has recognized this about me because a couple of years ago they started sending me the fancy stamp catalog. I see stamps as consumable art. I admire them then send them on their way. Though I sometimes struggle to use the last one of a particular stamp set, the stamps generally come and go rather than sticking around like a regular collection would.  The invention of the Forever stamp has fed my habit because I know I don’t have to use them up before the rates change and I will admit that I probably have many more stamps than I actually need.  Just know that if I send you something in the mail, I have carefully selected which stamp you should get out of my current stock.  (Sorry bill collectors – you get the boring ones.) I recently listened to a podcast about how stamp designs are selected, I’ve been to the Postal Museum, and I love the Pony Express so I feel a separate stamp-related post may be in my future!
  4. Photos – It’s the stories and the memories and the relationships that I see in the pictures that pull me so strongly to save them.  I have a variety of scrapbooks and a complete inability to delete or throw away any pictures.  A perfect surprise is getting a picture from someone that I don’t already have (ie school field trips, etc).
stamp collection of forever stamps including Disney Villains, Harry Potter, National Parks, and Mister Rogers
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My first love might be squashed pennies but check out these beauties! Tiny little bits of consumable art ready to brighten mailboxes everywhere!

What about you?  Do you have any collections?

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