Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cheap Souvenirs

My daughter's pressed (or elongated) penny collection began after we moved to our present neighborhood. It was 2010 when she really started playing with the little girls that used to ride in scooter gangs up and down the street. One of the girls collected pressed pennies. At 51 cents per penny, I thought it was a nice (a.k.a. cheap) thing to collect.

Julia made her first penny at the Carnegie Science Center. She's since become hooked. Selecting a stamp style, cranking the handle, organizing each treasured penny into an appropriately titled display book: Julia is all about it. Vacations are cause to consult PennyCollector.com for machine locations. If we're driving by a pressed penny machine, we'll stop often lugging rolls of quarters and carefully chosen pennies. There's even a penny collecting app.

Especially lucrative penny collecting trips are cause for their own book. Colorado was almost filled. In Niagara Falls Canada and Orlando, FL you'll find higher penny prices, sometimes a whole buck plus the penny you're pressing. Broken machines have stymied attempts at getting certain coveted designs, but still the collection grows.

The penny albums have become as precious as the photos taken on each journey. Most are remembered for some type of tour or attraction. A few are from some place we stopped in just because it had a penny presser. The Penny Collector web site has all kinds of information about which machines are pressing too long or too short or impressing their design too lightly. Those imperfections just add to the excitement when the finished penny drops into eager hands.

This is the penny machine at the Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs. The fully automated ones aren't as fun as working the big hand crank.
Last week, Julia discovered she had the whole set of Carnegie Science Center pressed pennies. She's already talking about getting a second set to take part in penny trading, a tool for when you "just can't smash in person."

I'm a fan of the in person smash, or at least pennies brought home by someone we know that made them personally. The 1981 Statue of Liberty penny in our collection kind of bothers me. Obviously it came from New York, but who made it is a mystery. I want more than just the pennies. I want the memories. And the pictures of the back of Julia's head in front of a pressed penny machine. I want to keep traveling the world (or the United States), personally pressing pennies.

Do you collect any souvenirs to remember your vacations?