It’s happened to all of one at least once, but if you are like me that’s all it takes. Just one time to miss a penny machine you weren’t aware was located someplace you just happened to stop at and your pockets are empty. It’s enough to haunt a pressed coin collectors dreams.
My one (and only) time this happened was during a trip about 7 years ago to Point Pleasant beach here in Jersey. I had checked penny collector.com before my visit and all the machines listed I had collected on previous visits so I went without any supplies. Then on our first stop along the boardwalk inside the Jenkinson’s Aquarium what do I see, a 3 press electric penny machine. Quickly going through my pockets I confirmed what I already knew, no change. I didn’t even have any cash to try to get change in the gift shop. I ran back to where my car was located and tore it apart trying to find any pennies and quarters but it was just not to be that day. I made a special trip back the following weekend and acquired the coins, and added the location to pennycollector.com for future visits to know about. However I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t let this happen again. Lucky this time the machine was only about 25 minutes away from my apartment at the time, but what if it was further away I’d always remember the one that got away. That’s when I came up with the below solution.
First let me say I did try a few other suggestions I had read about online but none of them worked for me. I really believe you just need to try some of these things and figure out what works best for you, and don’t let anyone tell you there is one and only way to do something. A few times I tried just keeping a lot of extra change in a zip top bag, or I did try the mini m&m container which seems popular but I just don’t like a lot of things in my pockets jingling around especially if I’m doing a lot of walking. What I figured out is that for most trips I go prepared with exactly what I need to collect the machines I know are available at my destination. This solution I worked on was for those machines that catch me by surprise. What this means is I didn’t want to have to walk around with more loose change that I needed. This way I can keep my supplies in my car and if needed I can run back and know that I have what I need to acquire the pennies.
My first tip is to always be prepared with enough quarters and pennies so you don’t have to try to collect these items last-minute. Obviously expenses are different for each person, but when I’m trying to stock up I usually set aside $20 from a few paychecks so that it doesn’t really effect my income for the month (I’d probably just waste it on fast food or candy anyways) and use that to get a couple rolls of quarters. I store my quarter in boxes as shown in the above picture. These types of boxes can be found online and are pretty cheap.
The pennies can be a little harder to stockpile. As with most pressed penny collectors we like to use the pre-1982 versions due to their higher copper percentage which results in better pressings. Since this limits the coins we can find it becomes a little difficult to find Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) but there are places to get them. Or you can probably find jars of dirty old pennies at your grandparents house, but you will most likely need to spend a lot of time cleaning them so they are acceptable for pressing. However you decide to stock up on the pennies I always like to get BU rolls whenever possible and keep them in similar boxes to the ones I use for quarters.
How on the main event. I found the above plastic container at a Michael’s craft store, but have seen similar versions at Hobby Lobby, A.C. Moore, Wal-Mart and numerous other places. This one was found in the jewelry making section and had the perfect little divided sections to hold my supplies. This box is 6 inches long, 4 inches wide and about 1 1/2 inches tall. With the 7 compartments inside you can customize this pretty much however you like. The method I used as seen above is to have pennies in two of the sections (Initially I did keep pre-1982 in one and post-1982 in another but stopped this as I got more serious about the hobby). The large middle section will hold up to 2 rolls of quarters if needed. The remaining 4 sections hold little zip top bags I used to keep the set of coins from each machine together. I the past I would have a large pile of pressed coins and trying to go back through them and put the sets together was a nightmare. These little bags can be found in the jewelry sections at the craft stores as well.
The size I use are 2 inches by 3.75 inches which I find holds the quarters and pennies needed for a 3 or 4 die machine easily.
Then once the coins have been pressed I put them back in the same bag until I get home to catalogue them and a properly store them in my collection.
As I said above this isn’t designed to be carried around although I guess you could. I primarily just keep this in the center console of my car (or whatever vehicle I’m using at the time). Then if I come across a new machine I know I have quarters, pennies and bags available in an emergency collecting situation. As the inventory in this container gets low I just restock as needed to ensure I never run too low . So far it hasn’t let me down, and I find that even if I have to run back to a parking lot to get some spare change I don’t mind as the alternative would be to leave the machine uncollected.
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