Penny smashing machines been a staple of urist spots since they have been first introduced at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. More than a decade after it was created, Henry and Morelewicz decided that the museum had run its course.
With both holding busy jobs Henry at a federal agency that gives grants to museums and Morelewicz at the Washington City Paper the museum was only open on weekends by appointment.
There’s a bunch of work that goes into keeping it up and doing research, Morelewicz says, in spite the fact that it’s fun. Of course, fourteen separate Yahoo newsgroups are devoted to various parts of elongates, and ebay hosts a steady stream of pressed penny auctions.
Online coin club The Elongated Collectors (has a roster of 628 duespaying members.
An ebay search at press time found upward of 500 listings for stretched coins and related ephemera.
Today, Rosato says, thousands collect stretched pennies from worldwide locations. The actual question is. Where else are you intending to get a souvenir for a half a buck that will outlast you? Veteran engraver Jim Dundon says. Squished pennies are now a worldwide commercial enterprise, when a novelty traded by a handful of rollers in the earliest decades of the 20th Century.
Henry and Morelewicz curate amid the largest, most respected obscure collections. They operate a Web site, and have welcomed guests from 30 states and at least three foreign countries. Cracker Jack, Shredded Wheat and Wrigley’s gum as products of the 1893 Columbian Exposition almost noone should know to list elongated coins among the innovations introduced in Chicago’s fabled White City, while a few Chicagoans might be able to name the Ferris Wheel. Oftentimes though elongate historian Angelo Rosato, 84, owns examples of squished Austrian and Russian coins dated 1818, he credits an unnamed Chicago jeweler with the invention of the modern pressed coin. At the fair, a nickel run through a modified jeweler’s mill was stamped with the words Columbian Exposition 1893.
Though the Chicago jeweler’s name has been lost to history, an entrepreneur based in Buffalo named Charles Damm ok up the practice of engraving dies to press coins at special events during the early 1900s. When bicentennial fever sparked a flurry of merchandising mementos and a resurgence of squished coins, the hobby fluctuated in popularity until 1976. Today, it’s amid the largest retailers of the collectible.
While installing machines in its theme parks in the mid1980s, disney came relatively late to the pressed coin phenomenon. It loses its status as legal tender once it’s been run through a souvenir pennypress machine. On p of that, a penny isn’t worth much. Squished Penny Museum cocurator Pete Morelewicz sees plenty of value in the copper coins some people feel aren’t worth picking up off the street. What started in 1996 as a mantel display of souvenir pennies gathered on a cross country trip has mutated into the Louvre for collectors of elongated, souvenir pennies.