Pressed Pennies: A Beginner’s Guide

by on January 28, 2015 13 Comments

Filed under: Merchandise

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When my husband, daughter, and I moved near Walt Disney World, we made a promise to ourselves that we wouldn’t go crazy buying souvenirs and merchandise so that our house didn’t become its own off-site Disney outlet. At the same time, we do enjoy the idea of collecting items. For us, pressed pennies (and dimes and quarters) were a great option.

Even at $1.25 for a pressed quarter, it still is a bargain souvenir. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Even at $1.25 for a pressed quarter, it still is a bargain souvenir. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Here are some of the reasons we love collecting pressed pennies:

* They are inexpensive. Where else can you get a souvenir for 51 cents (for pressed pennies), 85 cents (for pressed dimes), or $1.25 (for pressed quarters)?

* They are easy to store. Whether you buy specially designed booklets to store them in, use them for arts and crafts, or just keep them in a small container, they don’t take up a lot of space.

* They are fun to make. Who doesn’t like watching things go smash and crunch? Many times when we put the coins in to make a pressed penny, people around stop to watch. There’s just something very cool about watching the process.

* They are available other places, too. From tourist attractions to rest areas along the interstate, you never know where you will find one.

* They all tell a story. Whether it is an extinct attraction or a Haunted Mansion pressed penny given to a four-year-old girl for her bravery going on the attraction for the first time, every one can have its own unique story that adds to your travel memories.

* They are good souvenir options when some merchandise is hard to get. During the time when it was nearly impossible to find Frozen merchandise at Walt Disney World, there were three Frozen pressed pennies available. So for less than $2, you could get a unique piece of Frozen merchandise even if everything else was sold out.

* They are collectible. Every year, new designs come out, including some designs specific for that year only. This year there are 15 pressed coins that are marked with 2015 scattered all around property. In addition, there are coins that are part of sets (for example, the Seven Dwarves or a set of Mickeys).

* They are slower to release than other collectibles. Unlike pins or vinylmation, where you could easily go broke just trying to buy every new release, you won’t be scrambling to get every new release. Although new designs do appear throughout the year, it is usually one here or one there every few months instead of dozens in a series appearing in a single day.

 

The crank machines allow you to have the fun of using brute force (or 2500 pounds of mechanically assisted pressure) to make a penny as flat as…something flatter than a penny? (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

The crank machines allow you to have the fun of using brute force (or 2500 pounds of mechanically assisted pressure) to make a penny as flat as…something flatter than a penny? (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Finding Pressed Coins at Walt Disney World

Pressed pennies can be found all throughout Walt Disney World, at the theme parks, resorts, water parks, and Downtown Disney. In addition, there are pressed penny machines in the Port Canaveral terminal before you board a Disney cruise. Pressed quarters are found alongside some of the pressed penny machines. Pressed dimes are available in one place only at Walt Disney World—in the arcade in Tomorrowland just outside the exit from Space Mountain.

The ultra-rare Souvenir Dimes are only found in Tomorrowland, because in the future, pennies might have gone extinct. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

The ultra-rare Souvenir Dimes are only found in Tomorrowland, because in the future, pennies might have gone extinct. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some locations have change machines nearby, but in general, make sure to bring your own coins—and especially the pennies. There are two basic types of machines: ones that use a hand crank to select the design you want and then crank some more to press the coin, and ones where you press the button of the design you want and the machine does the hard work.

How to Select the Best Pennies to Press

For the true pressed penny aficionado, the best pennies to use are from prior to 1982, when the pennies were made 95% of copper. For those coins, when you smash them, you will get a uniform color throughout. After 1982, pennies are made from approximately 99% zinc with a copper coating, and so you will get silver-colored streaks in the penny as it is pressed. For me personally, I think this adds some character to the penny. Once you have some pennies selected, you may also need to get them cleaned. There are almost as many different ways to clean pennies as there are pressed pennies out there. From hot sauce to lemon juice to SOS pads or Brasso, some cleaning methods can be found here.

Once you have your pennies all cleaned, you will want to keep them neat and tidy until it is time for you to press them. The best advice we were given early on is to use an empty M&M Minis tube filled with quarter-quarter-penny so that you have a set of two quarters and a penny ready to go at a moment’s notice. This is also a great way to budget with kids—once they run out of coins in the tube, they are done “shopping” for that day.

Web Sites for Checklists

My personal favorite site for keeping track of Walt Disney World pressed pennies is PressCoins.com.

This site contains checklists to help you locate and keep track of the coins currently available, as well as those that have been retired. Many of the pages show not only the coins themselves, but what the machines look like (as the machines can seemingly play hide and seek in the back of stores around property).

To locate other pressed coins around the world, check out the “official web site for elongated pennies” at PennyCollector.com.

There you can find everything you want to know about pressed penny machines throughout the world, plus resources to help you buy, sell, and trade.

What To Do with a Collection

Books to store your pressed pennies can be purchased at many gift shops around property. If you are interested in getting more creative, a few minutes on Pinterest can provide a variety of ideas. From jewelry (such as earrings and charm bracelets) to framed artwork to keychains and more, there are many different DIY projects that you can do with pressed coins.

How do you decide what to collect? That’s really up to you. Some people may try and collect them all. Others may go for a specific character, or only coins of rides they have been on. In addition, there are a couple special coins of interest.

Star Wars Weekends Pressed Pennies

The Star Wars pressed pennies are a personal favorite. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

The Star Wars pressed pennies are a personal favorite. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

During Star Wars Weekends, a special machine is brought out into the area around (or in some years inside) Darth’s Mall. This machine contains the Star Tours logo, plus Leia Minnie, Jedi Mickey, and Darth Goofy.

 

The Mysterious Agent P Coin

While doing the research for this article, I came across several mentions of the ultra-rare Agent P coin. While there are several Agent P (from Phineas and Ferb) coins available in Epcot, this particular one is not shown on any of the pressed penny coin signs. From what I was able to glean, you are able to obtain this coin from the pressed penny machine in France as part of Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure and somehow the die in the machine only presses out that coin if you are on that adventure. I decided to see if you could get the pressed penny without playing the game, and tracked down the machine, nestled in the back of the gift shop between Impressions de France and Les Halles. Unfortunately, the machine seems to have been “played” a bit too much, as it was out of order, jammed full of coins. I was able to see the die in there that would press the special coin, however. Hopefully this will be fixed soon, and I will keep checking back.

Curse you Perry the Pressed Penny Machine! (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Curse you Perry the Pressed Penny Machine! (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

 

But is it….you know….legal?

When we first started collecting coins, some of our relatives expressed concern for our daughter’s eventual chances at a presidential run for her willful destruction of U.S. currency and asked “Isn’t it….well, you know….illegal to do this?” In short, the regulations about mutilating money comes more from the standpoint that I can’t take two ten dollar bills, cut out a zero from one of them, glue it to the other, and try to say it is a hundred dollar bill. As long as you are not trying to pull a fraud, you are allowed to safely “mutilate” the coins in pressed penny machines, as signs on the machines clearly state.

In short, yes, the thousands upon thousands of pressed pennies made each year at Walt Disney World are legal to do. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

In short, yes, the thousands upon thousands of pressed pennies made each year at Walt Disney World are legal to do. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sample of our daughter's pressed penny collection. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

A sample of our daughter’s pressed penny collection. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

So are there any other pressed penny collectors out there? Got a favorite? Got a design you wish Disney would make? (And is anyone else wishing they’d hide a nickel machine somewhere on property?) Leave a comment and share your love for the smashed cents out there!

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Posted on January 28, 2015

13 Responses to “Pressed Pennies: A Beginner’s Guide”

  • Excellent timing for this article! I’m on he second day of my second Disney trip and have been buying up pressed pennies left and right.

    It’s a long story, but during our first trip last year, my partner and I had to use more cash than we would normally use. We ended up racking up a whole mess of change, and since we would have no use for any of it when we returned home to Canada, we decided to plunk as much as we could into these machines in our final two days. We ended up with almost two-dozen pressed pennies.

    We decided to continue our little collection this year, and yesterday we added another ten or so pennies to the collection! Thanks to this post, I now know I’ve got to make a trip to the tomorrow land dime machine and cross my fingers in hopes of getting a Perry the Platipus!

    • by Julia Mascardo on January 28, 2015, at 1:31 pm EST

      It is a great way to use up spare change if you don’t want to lug it home (or can’t use it when you get there)! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • You gave me a good idea in this article. We are going to be taking our baby in September for her first vacation…she will be around 8 weeks old. Obviously she won’t care for souvenirs but I love the idea of collecting coins for rides you have been on. It will be a fun way to have memories of what rides she went on for her very first trip. I may even extend it to characters she meets. My husband will definitely want to try his hand at that Agent P coin too. Thanks for the good article.

    • by Julia Mascardo on January 28, 2015, at 1:32 pm EST

      That would be a wonderful idea. If you could get a really great picture of your daughter and frame it, surrounded by the different pennies, that would make such a neat keepsake!

  • I love pressed pennies! My favourites are a set of 50 from Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary celebrating 50 Magical Milestones…I even got an album that went with the set!

    Do you know where the 2015 penny presses are?

    • by Julia Mascardo on January 28, 2015, at 1:28 pm EST

      According to Presscoins.com, here’s the locations:
      Unique Penny Designs:
      2015 Chip & Dale – Splashdown Photos Gift Shop
      2015 Goofy – Grand Floridian Resort
      2015 Minnie – Hollywood Studios Prop Shop
      Unique Quarter Designs:
      2015 Pluto – Animal Kingdom Harambe Railway Station
      2015 Daisy – All-Star Music Note’able Games
      Designs Available As Both A Penny and Quarter:
      2015 Mickey – Penny at Magic Kingdom Sir Mickey’s, Quarter at Contemporary Resort
      2015 Magic Kingdom – Penny at Emporium, Quarter at Main Street Railroad Station
      2015 Tinker Bell – Penny at Contemporary Resort, Quarter at Hollywood Studios Mickey’s of Hollywood
      2015 Donald – Penny at Epcot Mouse Gears, Quarter at All-Star Sports Game Point Arcade
      2015 Nemo – Penny at Animal Kingdom Chester & Hester’s, Quarter at Epcot The Land

  • We started pressed pennies when my son was about 3. We collect them wherever we go. Last summer, we decided to buy a new book for each Disney trip. We then collect pennies for that trip. From the mom perspective, I love how small the collection is to store once at home:)

    • by Julia Mascardo on January 28, 2015, at 1:33 pm EST

      I love that they don’t make a mess (especially in those books…once they are in, it isn’t easy to get them out), and even if my daughter spends another 10 years collecting them, her collection will still fit easily in a shoebox!

  • Nice article! I think this is something our family might have to try, as we have no other real Disney collectibles thus far (and we’ve been to WDW 4 times). We will be visiting Disneyland this summer for the first time, so hopefully they have the machines as well and we can start there. One other thing….presscoins.com does not seem to work, it just brings me back to this page, even if I type it in fresh in a new window. Is there another address for that site??

  • If you have a drimmel tool. Drill a small hole in the pressed penny. Then you can insert a hook to create a Christmas Tree ornament. You can also make a keychain or charm bracelet with a ring connector like you’d find on a keychain.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=pressed+penny+jewelry&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=1EfJVNnTO4aWyQSBuYHoDA&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAg&biw=852&bih=588

  • Great article Julia! I use to be a huge collector of pressed pennies as a kid. I’m pretty sure my collection of pressed pennies is somewhere in my parent’s garage.

  • I got the Agent P penny in 2012. It’s annoying because even when you play the France pavilion option, you don’t ALWAYS get the pressed penny part. I had to go back to the cart and restart my game to get the penny. (This was after I played France, came up penniless, played another pavilion because you have to, before repeating France, several times). But I did get my Agent P penny in the end.