There are many things within the Disney universe that people collect. Some love to collect and trade the thousands of different kinds of pins that are offered. There are those who enjoy buying the one of kind lithographs that can cost thousands of dollars. Don’t even get me started on the t-shirts, bags, hats and other soft goods that are offered. There are those who like to get the newest big fig or the newest miniature diorama. A lot of these items can get pretty costly very fast, but there are many items that can be collected relatively cheaply. So if you’re looking for something to buy within the park that can become somewhat of an obsession, look no further. In this month’s newsletter we’re going to discuss “elongated coin pressing” or “penny pressing” as some call it. It’s a pretty cheap hobby that is easy to start and fun to collect. So sit back, check your pockets and couch cushions for some spare change and enjoy this article on “penny pressing”.
What does the year 1818 have to do with this article you may ask? It’s the year that the earliest documented elongated coin was produced. It was made in Vienna, Austria when Austria was still part of the Holy Roman Empire. The first elongated coin in the U.S. was created for the World’s Columbian Exposition held in 1893 in Chicago, Illinois. It commemorated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. Modified Jeweler’s Mills is the most likely way these early coins were made. The mills were normally used by jewelers to roll gold and other metals into thin wire.
It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the original hand cranked machines were being replaced with the new mechanical machines that are activated when the coins are inserted into the coin slots. Disney did not introduce these machines until 1987. In the beginning there were two manufacturers who wanted to have their machines in the original Disneyland Park. The Cimeter Group and Centek Inc. They both made prototypes and presented them to Disney officials, but due to the custom of sharing revenue with the machine manufacturer, Disney opted to go with the Cemtek Inc. machines because their machines were for sale unlike the Cimeter Group machines. Disney began with buying two machines in 1987 for the park, one with Mickey Mouse and the other with an image of Bear Country. Both machines were very profitable for the park, but were prone to a high failure rate due to high usage. The Eurolink penny press was later brought in. This penny press required the coin to pass between two rollers that produce 2500 pounds of pressure on the penny to create the image. Also for all the Eurolink machines, all of the “dies” are engraved by hand and not by computer. Being that they are hand engraved, this makes the quality of the image crisper than those that are made by computer. Walt Disney World did not receive any of the penny press machines until 1994. Along with the Eurolink machine, another machine was introduced which was the Penny Collector machines. Each machine now has 1, 3, or 4 different design options and the machines are spread throughout the parks and resorts, along with all of the other Disney parks overseas.
So what pennies should you use? Yes, that can make a difference on how the coin looks after it has been pressed. It is best to use pennies that are dated before 1982. Why? Because pennies older that 1982 were solid copper, unlike 1982 or newer which are copper plated zinc coins. When you press the penny the zinc will show through giving the coin silver streaks throughout the coin. But finding pre-1982 coins is a lot easier to find that most would believe. It make take some work, but by going to the bank and buying rolls of coins and going through them all, you will find more than you could probably spend on one trip down to the “world”. The problem with pennies 30 years and older is that most of them will be really dark and dirty. I’ve found that by soaking the coins in a bowl of cola for a day or two will do wonders for a dark coin. It won’t sparkle like a newly minted coin, but you won’t have to worry about silver streaks. Some collectors claim that rubbing the coin with A1 steak sauce or ketchup will clean really well. Whichever method you do try, be sure to rinse really well and clean the coin before you press, not after. Another tip is to insert the penny with Lincoln’s head facing to the right. This is the side that will give you the most complete image. On the quarter machines the quarter that is on the left is usually the one that gets pressed.
How is it legal to deface coins? Well, in the U.S. the pressing of pennies and other coinage is not prohibited unless there is fraudulent intention either in the pressing of the coinage or it’s use thereafter. So the next time your at the “world” or any of the Disney theme parks stop by a gift shop and grab one of the many different types of pressed coin collectors books and begin a new, inexpensive hobby.
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