If you’re looking for one of the least expensive travel souvenirs to take home from your next road trip, then why not make your own lucky penny? Simply insert your penny and a couple of quarters into the machine, crank the handle, and “Voilà!” — you’ve got a lucky souvenir coin.

Call them smashed pennies, pressed pennies, lucky pennies, or elongated coins if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, these collectible coins have been around for over 100 years, first appearing at Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.  Later appearances of the pressed penny include the 1904 St. Louis Exposition and other world’s fairs and expos.

An elongated penny from the 1893 Columbian Exposition.
Image: Public Domain

However, it wouldn’t be until nearly a century later with the invention of the first stand-alone automated coin roller in 1979 that the flattened souvenir penny would really become both a popular souvenir and interesting hobby. That 1979 machine pressed pennies saying “I Love Oregon” for the now-defunct Meier & Frank Company department store. The maker would also propose what would become the first coin press machine for Disneyland. Another company got the bid, however, and created a penny press which pressed a coin called “Mickey Mouse Rays,” which featured the famous rodent’s face with rays coming from behind Mickey’s head.

A penny press machine.
Image: Mtaylor848 – Own work via Wikipedia Commons

Today, pressed-coin machines can be found nearly everywhere, including in museums, gift and souvenir shops, zoos, amusement parks, and other such roadside attractions. (There are 40 alone in Disneyland!)  Even Stuckey’s on Eastbound I-10 in Anahuac, TX, has its own penny press. Though it doesn’t smash pennies with the Stuckey’s logo, it does press them into four designs: “I Love You,” “My Lucky Penny,” “The Lord’s Prayer,” and a unicorn. You can even get machines made to press pennies for private events such as marriages and gender reveals.

People who collect pressed pennies are called exonumists, which basically means that they collect coins like video game tokens, wooden nickels, or encased coins that aren’t meant for circulation. Serious exonumists will pay a pretty penny for rare and older pressed coins as well. Some of the first pressed coins from the World Columbian Exposition in 1893 can start at $250 dollars and upwards. Likewise, special edition pressed coins from Disneyland make a lot of cents, too.

A collection of souvenir elongated pennies.
Image: Public domain

Of course, many of us collect these lucky pennies for the sentimental value rather than their monetary value. However, experts say if you want your pressed-penny souvenir to last longer, use a penny from before 1982. These pennies contain real copper, as opposed to those made after 1982 which contain zinc and will leave silver streaks in your lucky penny. They also suggest that you can keep them clean and shiny as a new penny by using salt, vinegar and a little elbow grease.

Penny for our thoughts? We were wondering why you haven’t included the Stuckey’s“Road Trip Revival” Gift Box in your pre-road trip checklist yet? It’s packed with everything you’ll need for road trip including:

Get Your Road Trip Revival Gift box today…only from stuckeys.com!

3 – 2 oz. Pecan Log Rolls

1 – 8 oz. Caramel Popcorn

1 – 4 oz. T&S Pecans

1 – Campfire Travel Enamel Mug

1 Rubber Gator

1 – Coonskin Cap

1 – Stuckey’s Bumper Sticker

1 – Red Drinking Bird

Of course, if you’re already in one of the Stuckey’s locations that have a penny press, after you’re done getting your lucky pennies flattened, why don’t you go ahead and browse our selection of fine pecan candies and road trip souvenirs? And don’t forget to grab some of our world-famous Stuckey Pecan Log Rolls and Stuckey’s branded t-shirts and caps for the folks back home.

Forget something? Don’t worry! You can get all of your favorite Stuckey’s merchandise delivered to your home. Just visit us stuckeys.com.

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!