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Monday, January 18, 2016

My Love Affair with Smashed Pennies

I  collect 'em.  Like by the dozens.  Hundreds even.  Collecting Disney alone will get you into the hundreds, easily.  I started out in elementary school with San Diego Zoo and Harbor Excursion designs. Old Town, Coronado, Sea World, the Wild Animal Park, and Disneyland were soon to follow.

It's such a fun hobby for me.  There's the thrill of the hunt,  because even when you've got a location list, the machines are notorious for moving around.  Then there's the pleasant surprises of machines that weren't on your list popping up unexpectedly.  Some are in really weird places.  Like Parkway Plaza. (That didn't last long).  Or a recycling center.  The majority of them are in tourist destinations, often within gift shops or directly outside their doors, near a power source. Machines come and go, and designs are rotated and revamped and retired.

Brother going to Hawaii or Dad going to Colorado?  Better check my PennyCollector app and see if they'll be near any machines.  Just in case!  Mom's going to Israel and it looks like she just might be able to get me one or two there!

I have several international coins: Canada, Japan, England, Ireland, Grand Cayman, and it's possible I've left something off the list.

Looking for a Harry Potter penny? Got it. Jesus take the wheel? Yup. Pikachu?  Uh huh.  Pig farms, covered bridges, skunk trains, casinos, birth announcements, national monuments, inspirational quotes, historical figures, The Elongated Collectors Club circa 2002, sports stars, Burma Shave, lucky pennies.... I have a wide assortment to say the least.  I have one that simply says, "Jeff."

Back in the day, I belonged to the official collectors' club as well as a discussion group and traded coins online and on the honor system through snail mail.  And several times I also received a huge box full of coins to rummage through and take what I wanted and add in my duplicates and undesirables in return.  (Hence how I now have a very cool and very random Jeff coin).  I also bought some of my coins directly from rollers who own machines themselves (Burma Shave, WWJD, Ken Griffey, Jr, etc).

While smashed pennies are relatively inexpensive and take up little room in small quantities, in large quantities, they can get pricier and heavier, and you are left with the dilemma of how to display them.  For the longest time, my collection was kept in an applesauce jar.  I delighted in pouring the pennies out and sorting through them, organizing them first in one fashion and then in another.  And then one day I discovered mylars at a hobby shop with my Dad.  Then I kept my collection in a binder in mylars in plastic pages.  The binder was not all inclusive.  Disneyland and Sea World and San Francisco had their own collectible books. Also, not all of my collection was going to fit into a 1.5" D-ring binder.  So it became more of a status thing.  The most important coins were displayed, with initials designated their state of origin and also the initials of the person who gave me the coin, if applicable.

Ten years ago, I had the pleasure of collecting the gorgeous 50th anniversary Magical Milestones set and more recently, the 60th Diamond Anniversary set at Disneyland.  They are displayed in my Disneyland pressed penny books.  I have plans for my other, general Disneyland coins.  They are sorted out from my other ECs. (Elongated coins.)

The rest of my collection is housed in a beautiful bowl my dear friend Charlie gave me as a housewarming gift.  It is teal and glossy and perfect.  I can see my collection and hear it and touch it whenever I please.  And it does please me.  Some people have baseball cards or shoes or spoons or vinyl.  I have smashed pennies.

I've reined in my collecting urges quite a bit.  I don't need every design from every destination.  That gets out of control fast. But I do like a token to remember a trip by.  One or two (okay, four...) souvenirs of a fun day.  My favorites are turtles, giraffes, and unique designs.

They changed the content of a penny in 1982 to contain more zinc, so when it is smashed, a newer penny will leave an unsightly silver colored smear.  When smashing, always choose a pre-82 penny.  That's your tip for the day.

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