In past posts, I’ve gone over how Pressed Penny Collectors usually prefer to use what are known as Pre-1982 pennies. This is due to the larger percentage of copper used in those older coins. Starting in 1982 the United States Mint changed the metals in the penny to 97.5% zinc with only a 2.5% copper coating.
A common complaint among collectors is that when using these new pennies that thin copper coating can stretch and tear while being elongated to reveal streaks of the zinc core.
Years ago after learning more about this from fellow collectors I quickly changed over to pre-1982 pennies and of course had to go back and replace quite a few pennies in my collection. Recently I was working on a video for Youtube and decided that I wanted to do a massive comparison between pennies with different minted dates.
First I had to figure out which pressed penny machine to use. I wanted the design to be fairly simple but also needed to ensure that the machine (hopefully) would be around for years to come. This is because I’m hoping to continue with this in future years to keep the comparison up to date. Also due to many of the theme parks around Orlando being closed this did limit what machines I would have access to. After going through my options I decided on a machine in Disney Springs at the Pin Trading store.
The design I chose was of Classic Mickey Mouse. I don’t see Disney retiring this machine or design any time soon. Mickey is here to stay for a long time. Hopefully, I didn’t just jinx things.
A few weeks before my visit I had placed numerous orders with many coin merchants to get as many Brilliant Uncirculated pennies starting with 1950 all the way through 2020. I had each penny stored in a separate little baggie with the date printed on the outside so that after I pressed each of them I would know which was which. I think the Cast Members in the store thought I had lost my mind as I pressed the exact same design 71 times. But they seemed happy just to have guests back in the store, and I actually kind of enjoyed being able to press some pennies again after being cooped up in our house for the last couple of months.
Above is just a sampling of the pennies I pressed for this comparison. You can click on the images to get a larger image for more detail. At a glance, they don’t actually look too different. But when you zoom in is where you start to see some differences.
The image above on the Left is a 60x zoom of the 1950 penny, and the image on the Right is the 1988 penny. That 1988 penny clearly shows those stretch and tear marks on the right side along the dot border.
However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Above I zoomed in on the 2020 penny and there are none of those tear marks. The penny machines for the most part have been calibrated to try and press with pressure and die configuration that hopefully will work for a wide range of pennies to try and ensure the final product is as good as can be. For the most part, I do find the pre-1982 pennies work the best and are what I’m sticking with for now as long as I am able to obtain them.
If you would like to check out the full comparison of all pennies from 1950 to the Present year just scroll up to the top of this page and click on “Penny Comparison” from the menu just under the main banner. Enjoy and keep on smashing!!