When I got married some 13 years ago we were beyond broke. The wedding had to be in Las Vegas because the bride’s family was unwilling to travel to the Bay Area, but at least they got us our hotel stay for free. Still, we were unable to afford much in the way of souvenirs or luxuries while were there. That was, until I saw a penny press in the lobby of the Excalibur. You know the ones – you put in two quarters and a penny, some wheels spin around and out pops your penny now looking as if its been run over by a train but with the logo of the tourist trap you’re visiting now emblazoned on its side. The marriage lasted less than 18 months, but my obsession with elongated coins (the proper term for smashed pennies) continued on for about four years.
I collected literally thousands of these things, compiled hundreds of pages of research on their history and the location of modern machines, was the first to catalog the entire Disney pressed penny collection, and was even looking at buying my own penny machine.
My favorite squished coins, though, weren’t the 100+ year old originals from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, but those that I was able to create myself. Not just buy, but create. Because the best souvenir penny machines are those that allow you to hand crank the gears around instead of just watching while the machine does all the work.
Back in the day the only hand crank machines available were those without adornment of any kind (like the one pictured above). But thanks to companies like Global Impressions you can now hand squish your own pennies out of adorable machines like the one pictured to the right. I may have broken out of the obsession I once had for elongated coins, but Z and I still pick them up whenever possible while out adventuring, and it’s wonderful to see such loving care being put into these century old souvenirs.