The original version of this article was written for the October to December 2019 edition of TEC News: The Official Newsletter Of The Elongated Collectors, a publication for pressed penny collectors.
I wasn’t necessarily interested in a new hobby. Why does a 40-something guy need a new hobby? I already play geolocation games and send the occasional postcard through Postcrossing, plus I have my work as a freelance web content writer to do. So why bother collecting something?
But I’ve always been fascinated with metal and wood, so inexpensive elongated pennies are a natural fit for me. A year ago and for no particular reason, I started my collection from scratch – not a single pressed penny to my name. I looked up TEC and joined before ever visiting a machine or doing any deals online. Now, my collection includes hundreds of pennies from around the world.
And I’ve learned so much already. Here are 10 things I’ve learned in my first year collecting elongated coins:
1. Organization matters. I know what I have because I follow a system created by Burton Neil Levy and posted in The Elongated Collectors group on Facebook. (Look for Elongated Coin Storage System.pdf in the Files section.)
2. A goal helps. Mine has been to get at least one copper elongated from every state and every country listed on Penny Collector.
3. You’ll figure out what you really like. While working toward that goal, I realized I most enjoy odd and obscure squishes and especially people’s personals. Those are much more interesting to me than a Bass Pro Shop penny — although I like those too.
4. Cleaning pennies is a pain. It’s fun to learn how to clean pennies, but it’s not much fun to do it regularly. I’ve found I can buy uncirculated copper pennies locally for about $1 a roll, and those are clean enough for me.
5. This hobby complements others. I go strange places all the time to capture Flagstack flags and Munzees and find geocaches, so pressing pennies is the sort of hobby that fits right in. I also mention elongateds when sending postcards through Postcrossing.
6. It’s OK to take a break. I haven’t pressed many pennies or done many deals in the last few months, but it doesn’t mean I’m quitting. It just means that my priorities shifted and will shift again.
7. There’s no rush. Unless your collecting goal includes a timeframe, you have the rest of your life to “complete” your collection.
8. Connecting through Facebook is essential. I’ve learned so much and done so many deals through Facebook Groups. The best place to start is, of course, The Elongated Collectors. You might also enjoy Pressed Penny Mafia and their series of group coins.
9. Joining The Elongated Collectors is essential too. No one made me say it, but joining this organization is an important part of how I got connected with other collectors. And since I like obscure and unusual pressed pennies, I really like many of the coins included with the subscription.
10. Pressed pennies are a jumping-off point. Have you heard of hobo nickels? And what happened to my dad’s 1925 Stone Mountain half dollar? There’s a world of coin collecting beyond elongateds that I’m only starting to explore.
What did you learn during your first year of collecting? Or is your first year just getting started? Let’s talk about it in one of those Facebook groups. And I’m always available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org – especially if you want to send me your personal penny.