Up here in Jersey we have had a pretty easy winter. It’s been cold, but not much snow this year. There have really only been two big snow storms hit our area and the snow is usually all melted away within a week or so. Since I originally came from Canada I will say we have had it pretty good this year. But regardless since the temperatures have been cold, and the wind making it very hard to stay outside for any length of time our daughters have been getting cabin fever staying instead all the time. This past weekend it was a little more on the milder side (with more cold on the way) so we decided to take the opportunity and spend a day out at the zoo. I’m always on the look out for new penny machines and this gave us the opportunity to visit a zoo we hadn’t visited before, and for my own selfish reasons get some new pennies.
About an hour from our house on the PA turnpike we were in a place called Norristown and found the Elmwood Park Zoo. This is not a huge zoo, but much bigger than I had anticipated. Unfortunately since we were visiting during their winter season a lot of the animals were not available to see. Many of the attractions were also closed so we didn’t have much to look at. The entrance fee was significantly less due to the limited things to see and do, but I will definitely want to come back when it’s warmer to see all they have when it’s completely open.
Their outdoor exhibits were very nicely put together, and the birds and other winter creatures were out and enjoying the warmer than usual weather.
One of the buildings we came to was called “The Bayou”. Inside there were some frogs, snacks, an alligator and some monkeys (not sure why they were in the Bayou).
This was also where we found the first penny machine. As you can see from the picture above it’s a four design hand crank machine. The only issue I have with these machines is that the finished coins drop out at the bottom but there is no holding cup or tray for them. They just hit a little piece of wood and more often than note go flying onto the floor. My daughter Hanna has fun running around trying to catch them, but sometimes they do go missing if you aren’t paying attention.
The coins did press very nicely and only had a slight curve to them. This first set included images of a Jaguar, an American Alligator, an American Bison, and a Flamingo. With the coins stored away we finished checking our The Bayou and headed back outside. We visited the few remaining exhibits that were open that day. As we headed towards the front of the zoo we went to check out their gift shop and found the second penny machine.
I’m sure you noticed the sign on the machine that said, “Out of Order”. This always is a bummer when you visit from a distance and come away empty-handed.
The penny designs at this machine were of a Red Panda, a Giraffe, an Eagle, and a Zebra. Once I got back home I did what I usually try whenever I come across a broken machine. I wrote a quick letter to the zoo and included enough quarters and pennies for all four designs, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to return them. There have only been a few instances where I never received anything back, but it’s pretty rare and most places are more than happy to help a collector in need. My advise when doing this is make it as easy for them as possible, and there really isn’t a reason for them not to help.
With our faces getting a little frozen we headed back to our cars and over to a diner for some hot chocolate and lunch. It was a fun little trip and I was disappointed there weren’t more animals to see. But this just gives us an excuse to come back when it’s warmer.
It took about 6 months but I finally received the pennies from the zoo. I have a feeling it was more due to our recent move down south as the envelope still had our old address on it. So after making its ways through the postal system the pennies arrived earlier today. It’s always nice to finalize a set that’s been incomplete. Below is a picture of the pennies, and thank you to the staff at the Elmwood Park Zoo for pressing these and sending them back.