We know for a fact that most baseball card collectors also collect something else. Coins or stamps fall into the classic amassing realm. We suspect most of your 'other collections' are quirkier than coins or stamps, though. In our case, as you may know, it's lunchboxes of the fifties, sixties, and seventies. Those, like baseball cards, are rectangular and colorful, so maybe there's some kind of connection.
But some, such as the coin people, don't seek squarishness. One of our best cyberbaseballcardcollectorfriends, the proprietor of the refreshingly quirky Mark's Ephemera, shares an interest with my kids: squished pennies. Squashed pennies. Smashed pennies. Sometimes they're called elongated coins.I'm not sure exactly how this started, but on our travels our older daughter peers around for a squished penny machine...we've seen them in diverse locations and of course there's the motherlode, Disneyland. Here's a frequently updated list of where to find the machines. It seems that the interest in elongated coins began during the 1892-1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America. An elongated coin is made by a coin, token, medal or metal blank being forced between two steel rollers. This may be why kids enjoy the process...they take a perfectly good penny and with a few cranks of a hefty wheel, they pretty much
The kids quickly discovered it's best to use pennies minted prior to 1982 when the U.S. Mint used a percentage of 95% copper, 5% zinc; after that, pennies were minted using 99.2% zinc with a 0.8% copper coating.
The difference between the two becomes clear once the penny is squished--er, elongated. In the newer pennies, elongation reveals zinc below the copper. Also, zinc doesn't polish well and tarnishes to gray. Now, the legal eagles among you might be thinking about US Code Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331, which prohibits "the mutilation, diminution and falsification of United States coinage." This statute, however, does not prohibit mutilation of coins if said coins are not intended as counterfeit coinage. Because elongated coins are made mainly as souvenirs, mutilation for this purpose is legal. (While it is no longer illegal in the UK to mutilate the image of the Queen, it is still illegal in respect-crazed Canada.)
This is Lucy's penny book: Your burning question at this point well may be: are you off on some kind of addlepated tangent, Dinged Corners? How does all desecrating of coinage relate to baseball? Well, it kind of does: All three of the baseball penny examples above suffer from telltale zinc, but they're still kind of cool. Most modern coin elongating machines can be found in museum or landmark gift shops, souvenir stores, zoos, amusement parks and other such locations--including, rumor has it, some baseball stadiums. For instance, the Diamondbacks are said to have a machine, although we cannot verify. Minor league teams often have the machines. Here are pennies from the Chattanooga Lookouts:Tragically, there is no squisher at our local stadium, Albuquerque Isotopes Park. But evidence abounds that there must not only be plenty of penny pressing machines out there in baseball land, but also serious baseball-themed pressed penny collectors. Here is one bit of that irrefutable evidence:
And there are many baseball smashed penny resources online. Here's a flattening of Mike Schmidt from eBay:So Mark has kindly sent the girls some smashed pennies. He is a baseball card guy and a smashed penny guy. I'm not particularly into the pennies, but I enjoy helping the girls search out the machines, which are something to behold. Many make use of plastic and lucite, as in the picture of Lucy at work at the top of the post. But even those renditions have a solid, vintage craftsmanship appearance. And hey, they can smash a penny.
Our kids undoubtedly would do some crankin' if they came upon the machines at ballparks, but thus far we haven't seen them firsthand! On the bright side, we discovered a new word: exonumia--that is, non-money numismatic items. Well anyway, since we already contend with lunchboxes and baseball cards, what's the harm in adding a few pennies to the mix?