What is a squished penny?
Some of you may have noticed that I have lincluded links for "squished pennies" and may be wondering what that is all about. Well, squished pennies are those elongated pennies that you can buy as a souvenir (usually for about 51 cents) at many locations around the US (and the world). It turns out that there are tons of these penny machines with wonderful designs all over and a large network of people who like to collect them. Go figure!
I had a few squished pennies from when I was a kid but did not realize how widespread the hobby was until we visited the Squished Penny Museum here in Washington DC on a homeschool field trip. The museum is run by a wonderful couple out of their home (call first to set up an appointment time!) They allowed the boys to press their own pennies and it was fascinating to learn so much about them (not to mention seeing the hundreds of pennies they have!). This trip rekindled my interest and I started looking into it more.
The first place I found was the wonderful Elongated Coin email list which connects collectors from all over to talk pennies and share new finds and especially to trade! I have just started trading (check out my trade list) and am finding it to be a wonderful way to "meet" other collectors as well as expand my collection. I am have decided to try to focus my collection on mostly nautical/sea related items such as crabs, sea stars (starfish), sea horses, light houses, puffins, penguins, and turtles. I also enjoy collecting pennies from Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. It is amazing all the different designs you can find.
There is a national organization for collectors which has its own website and newsletter called The Elongated Collectors (TEC). They even send out pennies with each newsletter and organize squished penny meets.
Another great resource is the Penny Collector website. They make machines but most importantly they maintain a Penny Location database. Collectors email them with updates (and often times pictures of the pennies) about where they have found machines. I have started checking there every time we go somewhere new just in case.
Half the fun is in the hunt and the boys do join in, although I am more serious about it then they are. It is something fun for us to do together and I will have to post more about how this relates to our homeschooling (because, like everything else we do, it is part of our learning!)