A (smashed) penny for your thoughts

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”~Joseph Campbell, American writer

Today my husband and I had a smashing good time.

Cheesy play on words aside, I met other people who have a passion for smashin’…coins, that is.

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Sorting through one tub of duplicate pennies for sale or trade

I collect smashed pennies as souvenirs from places I visit. These are also called pressed pennies, squished pennies or, more generally, elongated coins because there are machines that press designs into nickels, dimes and quarters. I’ve been doing this since I was a little kid, but only casually with my parents helping me twist the handle of the machine that rolled out the penny. I started getting full sets of coins and taking it more seriously as a collectible souvenir when I was in my 20s. I’ve been a member of The Elongated Collectors (TEC) since 2002 when I wrote my article on smashed pennies for U.S. 1.

A question many people have: is this legal? Yes, it is. In the United States, U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331 only prohibits “the mutilation, diminution and falsification of United States coinage.” Since this machine mutilation creates souvenirs and not counterfeit cash, then everything is okay.

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Yours truly with other TEC members from Michigan and Illinois

We met at a member’s house in Holly, MI. There was a nifty barbeque with juicy hotdogs and moist Italian chicken. Afterwards, there was a trading session. One founding member was selling off some of his collection, and we were happy to browse the one tub he brought along. Yours truly won two door prizes: a penny from Holland (the Netherlands, not Michigan) and a penny set from Hawaii.

I don’t have many duplicates. It’s costly enough to get pennies for myself from every machine in Walt Disney World or on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. If I have extra change, I will get duplicates for some of my friends who appreciate a pseudo-collect them. What are the best coins I have? That’s a tough choice between the collection my husband and I tracked down on our honeymoon in Walt Disney World and the pennies I have from Hell (in Michigan, not the afterlife).

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