Elongated Penny from Ocracoke, North Carolina

This double-sided elongated penny is a bit of an overachiever. The patterns cover virtually all of the space on both sides.

On the obverse, there’s a portrait of the pirate Blackbeard next to a skull and crossbones flag. The legend around the rim reads “Blackbeard Exhibit * Ocracoke Island, NC”. On the right side of the portrait is the note “Teach’s Hole”. Don’t have a dirty mind – this was the name for the  sheltered bay on the island. It’s now known as Silverlake.

On the reverse, this elongate has the postscript “Blackbeard was killed near Teach’s Hole at Ocracoke Island, NC * Nov. 22 1718”.

Elongate from Ocracoke, North Carolina at the Blackbeard Exhibit Obverse

Elongate from Ocracoke, North Carolina at the Blackbeard Exhibit Obverse

Elongate from Ocracoke, North Carolina at the Blackbeard Exhibit Reverse

Elongate from Ocracoke, North Carolina at the Blackbeard Exhibit Reverse

Source: The Blackbeard’s Treasure Trove gift shop in Ocracoke, North Carolina. I worked for the Park Service in the fall of 2005 and lived in Ocracoke while working at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Status of the Machine: Still in operation (as far as I know)

Host Coin: post 1982 Lincoln cent

Other details: This elongate is on a post 1982 penny, which means that it has a high zinc content. Crushing the Lincoln cent exposed the zinc, which has lead to some minor corrosion.

Estimated Value: $0.51

What are elongated coins?

This souvenir piece was made by crushing a coin against a die in a rolling mill. High pressure causes the host coin to deform and take on the shape of the die, although some details often remain. The rolling mills often have designs on just one side, although 2 sided designs are fairly common. These pieces have various names – they are known as elongates, pressed coins, squashed pennies, or flattened coins, elongated cents, or stretched coins.

The first elongates were made at the 1892 World’s Fair in Chicago. Since then, coin pressing machines have appeared at many locations all around the world. They are commonly found at tourist attractions and feature patterns evocative of a location or activity (ie; the Seattle Space Needle or Playing Cards in Las Vegas).

Coin pressing machines come in various designs. Many are powered by a hand crank, although there are also automatic machines with electric motors that can get pretty fancy. Most cost 51 cents to operate (including the price of the penny that’s being pressed).

Pennies, Dimes, Nickels, Quarters, and various foreign coins have been used as hosts through the years. Pennies are probably the most common, but it seems like quarters are rising in popularity.

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