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Pressing Business --
Collecting Pressed Coins at WDW
by Rose L. Folan
ALL EARS® Feature Writer
This article appeared in the November 12, 2002, Issue #164 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Money, money, money... sometimes it seems vacations are as much about money as they are about relaxing and having fun. You face so many costs -- transportation, lodging, meals, tickets, and, of course, souvenirs. Here's a suggestion that might help at least with souvenirs. Have you ever considered pressed coins (also known as elongated coins)? They're fun, make great gifts, are inexpensive, and you won't need an extra suitcase to bring them home.
First, let me tell you about pressed coins. Specialized machines take regular coins (pennies and quarters at Walt Disney World) and, using pressure, a cylinder, and a system of wheels, imprint a specific design into the coin. The coins become longer, oval-shaped and flatter than when you started. The design is permanently imprinted into the coin.
FUN TO COLLECT If you haven't noticed the pressed coin machines already, take a look around. You'll find them in all the parks and resorts, as well as at Downtown Disney. The designs are endless, and you'll probably find new designs with each visit. The newest machines I've seen are for the 100 Years of Magic Celebration. In fact, that's one of the neat things about pressed coins -- you can continue to add to your collection over time.
Another great thing is that it's fun to find the machines and to make the coins yourself. I love to watch the wheels turning, pressing the design into the coin as it stretches and flattens out. No matter how many times I see it, I'm always fascinated. Good thing too, because making bunches of them for the kids back home means I stop at lots of machines.
MAKE GREAT GIFTS Kids usually like collecting pressed coins. Most are fascinated by the way they look, and can't believe they started as regular coins. While visiting WDW, kids can make the coins themselves. They can even bring them back for their friends because they don't cost as much as other souvenirs. They're easy to transport home, too, because unlike bulky gifts, they take very little room in your suitcase! With so many different designs, kids can bring home something different for each of their friends.
If you're collecting, you might want to focus your collection rather than try to collect them all. You could focus on one character, one park, the resorts, or any combination. Your collection will be totally unique and very personal as you select designs with special meaning for yourself.
INEXPENSIVE Now to the best part -- collecting pressed coins as souvenirs probably won't break the bank. Unlike other collectibles, these are a bargain. A pressed penny costs only 51 cents to make. The cost to make a pressed quarter is only $1.25! Compare this to the cost of collecting Disney pins, which are about $8.50 each, or t-shirts, which can cost $10-$20 each.
Remember one thing, though -- once you start collecting anything, the cost adds up. Don't be surprised at the end of your trip to find that you spent $50 or $75 on pressed coins and books to hold them. It's still a lot less than you'd spend on other things, and you had the fun of finding the machines, choosing the designs, and making them yourself.
PRESSED COIN TIPS Here are a few tips that I've gathered during the time my husband and I have been collecting.
*Use older pennies (pre-1982), which look better when pressed. This is because the older pennies don't include zinc. Zinc can cause silver- colored streaking in the copper.
*Bring coins with you rather than searching for them when you're at WDW. Finding a change machine anywhere on property can be very difficult and takes the fun out of collecting.
*Clean your coins before leaving home using either silver cleaner, vinegar or, my husband's favorite, a product called "Never Dull." (You can usually get it at hardware stores.) This will give a great-looking finished product.
*Carry your coins to WDW in rolls, or you can do what we do and use plastic mini-M & M's canisters -- just be sure to tape them closed or they might pop open when they bounce around in your luggage.
*Put the coins in your checked airline baggage rather than your carry- on bag. Airport security stopped my husband because they thought the canisters of coins looked odd on their scan. Don't carry the coins in your pockets or you'll set off the airport scanners.
*Purchase the specially designed souvenir books. You'll find them in stores at the parks and resorts. They hold many coins and make a nice way to store and display them. Also, they're not very expensive (about $7 last time I bought one), so they make a nice gift when filled with coins you personally made for friends.
*Check the machines each time you visit because they're always adding new ones. The current 100 Years of Magic Celebration machines offer a wide variety of new designs.
Finally, if you're one of those people who absolutely *must* know where the machines are before you go on your trip, there are websites that provide the information. However, we spent a good part of one trip following a list from machine- to-machine in each park, and I can tell you that by the end of the trip, it wasn't much fun anymore. The spontaneity of discovering a machine while shopping or visiting a park is great fun, so give it a try.
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.