Elongated coins are coins that have been elongated (flattened or stretched) and embossed with a new design with the purpose of creating a commemorative or souvenir token. The collecting of elongated coins is a branch of numismatics. Elongated coins are also categorized as exonumia.
The first elongated coins in the United States were created at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, held in 1893. Several designs were issued to commemorate the fair, and are available in the elongated coin collecting community today.
The production of elongated coins can be divided into three general classes, each of which covers a distinct period from 1893 to the present. The first of the three classes are referred to colloquially as "oldies", and were produced mainly for issuance at nationwide fairs like the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exhibition and the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair. This period started with the issuance of the first elongateds in 1893, and ended with an influx of private rollers around 1965. The second class of elongated coins, the "Modern Elongateds", cover the years c. 1965 to c. 1985. Around 1965, the major source of elongated coins became private rollers, individuals that designed and rolled elongated coins for sale. The major rollers of this period include Dottie Dow, the "House of Elongateds" (Lee Martin/Warren Bunge), Ralph Jones, Ralph W. Jobe, Elmer Anderson, Don Adams, Cee Ceven, and Angelo A. Rosato. While many private rollers still operate (notables include Raymond W. Dillard, Tyler D. Tyson, Brad Ream, and Don Adams), the vast introduction of commercial stand alone elongated machines came into the marketplace in 1988, following the introduction of the coin-operated penny press machine 1971, decreased the demand for private issues. This event marks the beginning of the third class of elongated coins, the "Contemporary Elongateds" (c. 1988 – present). This class of elongated coin machines were designed and built by Randy and Earl Vaughn from Dayton, Ohio in 1988. These mechanical coin-operated machines are still prominent in amusement parks such as Disney Resorts  and attractions throughout the United States, and the world. The first ever stand alone coin-operated mechanical penny press machine was placed in Kings Island Amusement park in 1988 by manufacturer Uncommon Cents, now called Global Impressions USA.
The hobby of collecting elongated coins (token coins) has expanded throughout the United States and the world. Most modern coin elongating machines can be found in museums or landmark gift shops, souvenir stores, zoos, amusement parks and other locations of this kind. Private engravers make special-issue elongated coins to commemorate historical events, personal landmarks (such as marriage or birth of a child), or other events warranting celebration. They also design elongated coins for private clubs and organizations.
It is common to find "pressed penny" machines in tourism hubs, such as museums, amusement parks, and natural/man-made landmarks.
An early and common method of coin elongation was smashing pennies by leaving them on a railroad track. When a train rolls over a penny, the force is sufficient to cause plastic deformation that flattens and stretches it into an oval, showing only the faintest trace of the original design. Some early railroad flattened cents were then hand engraved with the date and location.
Modern elongated coins are created by inserting a standard, small denomination coin into a small rolling mill consisting of two steel rollers pressed against each other with sufficient force to deform the coin. One of the rollers (called the "die") is engraved with a design that imprints a new image into the metal as the coin passes through it. The resulting coin is oval-shaped and shows a design corresponding to the design on the die in the mill. Some machines are hand operated, whereas others are fully automatic.
Throughout the history of the production of elongated coins, various methods have been used to engrave the design into the roller. Early elongateds were hand engraved with burin gravers, and some are still engraved using this method. More popular modern and contemporary methods include etching, pantograph engraving, and engraving using electric or air-powered rotary tools.
In America, one cent coins are most commonly used in these vending machines, as they are thin, easy to emboss, and are the smallest denomination of American money (most machines charge $.50 in addition to the cent rolled). All American cents produced after 1982 have a zinc core, and using them produces elongated coins with zinc streaks. This zinc streaking can be avoided by using coins produced before 1982. (The United States Mint produced both compositions during 1982.) Less common are machines that press designs into quarters, dimes, and nickels.
The process of creating elongated coins is legal in the United States, almost all parts of Japan, South Africa and parts of Europe. In the United States, U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331 prohibits "the mutilation, diminution and falsification of United States coinage." The foregoing statute, however, does not prohibit the mutilation of coins, if the mutilated coins are not used fraudulently, i.e., with the intention of creating counterfeit coinage or profiting from the base metal (the pre-1982 copper U.S. cent which, as of 2010, is worth more than one cent in the United States). Because elongated coins are made mainly as souvenirs, mutilation for this purpose is legal.
In the UK, the Coinage Act of 1971, section 10 states: "No person shall, except under the authority of a licence granted by the Treasury, melt down or break up any metal coin which is for the time being current in the United Kingdom or which, having been current there, has at any time after 16th May 1969 ceased to be so." thereby making this practice technically illegal. This is not generally enforced, perhaps due to the insignificance of odd pennies relative to all of circulated currency, and to currency that is either lost or destroyed whilst in circulation.
In countries where such mutilation is illegal, such as Canada, blank planchets, slugs, or U.S. cents are occasionally used, though this law is often ignored both by the users of the machine and law enforcement.
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- TEC: The Elongated Collector
- Other small groups exist, mostly dedicated to subcategories, such as Disney elongateds.
- There are dozens of personal web pages by devoted collectors.
- "Columbian Exposition". olm.net. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007.
- Rosato, Angelo A. (1990). Encyclopedia of the Modern Elongated: A Complete and Authentic Description of All Modern Elongateds, 1960-1978. New Milford, CT: Angros Publishers. ISBN 0-9626996-2-4.
- Martin, Lee; Dow, Dottie (1981). Yesterday's Elongateds. Beaumont, Calif.: L. Martin. OCLC 8431040.
- Disney Pressed Penny Collectors R. and A. Hoff. "Vance Fowler The Cimeter Group Inc. Penny Press Machines". parkpennies.com.
- Disney Pressed Penny Collectors R. and A. Hoff. "Elongated Coins and Pressed Pennies at Disneyland". parkpennies.com.
- "Disneyland Elongated Coin Machines". PennyCollector.com. Archived from the original on 14 August 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
- Acosta, Rocky (6 March 2013). "Currency as Art 1.0 - Defacing Coins". Arttechlaw.com. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- "Coinage Act 1971". www.legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
- "Closed Notice". Elongated Coin Museum. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
- "The Elongated Collectors". tecnews.org.
- "Ultimate LINK page to Elongated Coin sites.". exonumia.com.
- "UK Pennies". ukpennies.co.uk.
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