Collecting Elongated Pennies
Collecting elongated coins, usually pennies or quarters, has become one of the hottest hobbies today. Elongated, or “pressed”, coins are coins that have been flattened, stretched or elongated and then embossed with a design that creates a commemorative token or souvenir. These are usually created by a machine at public attractions, such as zoos and theme parks.
An early method for creating an elongated penny was to leave a penny on a railroad track and when the train rolled over the penny the force of the train was sufficient to flatten and stretch it into an oval shape. Some of the early railroad flattened pennies were also hand engraved with various information such as the date or location. Historically, the commercial production of elongated coins date back to the 1800’s. One of the first places that elongated coins were sold was at the 1892-1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as The Chicago World’s Fair.
The commercial process of creating elongated coins (also called “elongateds”) involves sending a coin or token through a machine called a jeweler’s mill. Mirror image designs are engraved into one or both of the steel rollers. A roller with a design engraved into it is called a “die”. When the coin is run between the rollers under tremendous pressure, (usually about 44,000 PSI and sometimes referred to as “22 tons of pressure”), the resulting coin is oval-shaped and now contains a design corresponding to the design on the die(s) in the mill. Some of these machines are hand operated, whereas others are fully automatic.
In the United States, pennies are most commonly used in these vending machines, as they are thin and easy to emboss. . Less common are machines that press designs into quarters, dimes, or nickels. Most machines charge 50 cents, in addition to the coin rolled. It is best to use pennies minted before 1982 because pennies minted after 1981 contain a zinc core and will produce an elongated coin with zinc streaks.
The hobby of collecting elongated coins has expanded throughout the world. This is in part due to the wide-spread occurrence of the modern coin elongating machine. These can be found today at almost any national park, museum, landmark gift shop, souvenir store, zoo, or amusement park. Private engravers also make special-issue elongated coins to commemorate historical events, personal landmarks (such as a marriage or birth of a child), or other events warranting celebration. They also design elongated coins for private clubs and organizations. This creates a great number of interesting designs for a collect to include in a collection. One of the most popular designs is The Lord’s Prayer.
Collecting elongated coins is a branch of numismatics or coin collecting. Elongated coin souvenirs are a type of exonumia (i.e. numismatic items other than coins and paper money). Exonumia also includes souvenir medallions, tokens, badges, wooden nickels, encased coins and other similar items.
Elongated pennies can also be used in various craft projects. The video below discusses a wonderful use of elongated pennies to make custom jewelry.