Saturday, April 14, 2007

the first pressed pennies

3.23.06:Thanks to my attempts at a Year of the Dog promotional tour, Robert and I have been traveling almost non-stop. And with this new occupation, my new hobby is to collect pressed pennies. Yes, it is sort of a dorky, touristy thing to do, but I love it. Having had my fill of easily creased postcards and unattractive photos, I decided that the pressed penny was the superior travel souvenir.

Now, one usually only runs into pressed penny machines by sheer coincidence. After obtaining my first penny and declaring my intention to start a collection, Robert scoffed at me.

"How are you going to start a pressed penny collection? We only know where one machine is," he said.

Ah, but he did not count on the power of the internet. With a little bit of determination and a lot of googling I found a map which marked pressed penny machines all over the United States. I also found an entire subculture of pressed penny collectors. See, I'm not the only one!

And with this map, I monopolized post and pre-event time with mapquest instructions to obscure locations. Robert moaned and groaned; and when friends asked how we spent our day Robert was purposely vague, embarrassed that we had spent our afternoon searching for a penny machine.

However, as the penny collection increased, Robert actually began to enjoy it. We were seeing parts of cities we probably would never have gone before. Who knew that the Desert Botanical Garden could be so fascinating? Or Old Tucson so deliciously campy? Thanks to my penny search, we were suddenly mastering the art of untried travel. No longer bogged down by going to places because we thought they were interesting, we were now going to places that sounded incredibly dull...yet were actually captivating. And even if the places were more on the tedious side, the traveling to get there was not. Each penny search became an adventure where we were encountering new and fun things; a memory for us to cherish and remember.

"It's kind of like a treasure hunt, this penny thing," Robert said to me.
"Yes," I told him, "I guess it is."


Penny Squisher said...

Your blog is very out of date so I don't know if you are still collecting but if you are still looking for pennies, I would recommend checking out It sounds from your map description like you were looking at the Hitchhiker's Guide to Elongated Pennies which is many years out of date -- while there still may be some accurate locations there are also likely to be many out of date listings and that can just get frustrating. Pennycollector is much more up to date because I and other crazy collectors are constantly updating it. The locations section is actually managed by a group of squished penny collectors.

Pressed Penny Singapore said...

I love pressed pennies. I got to first know them when I visited the States with my mum. She goes around cranking the pennies. I love them and there is none in Singapore. Singaporeans sure missed out the fun in pressing pennies... until now....I decided to bring a machine in! :D
If any of you happened to come to Singapore, be sure to crank out from Singapore's one and only pressed penny machine. You can order them online too if it's not possible to crank them yourselves. For more info, please visit