Friday, September 1, 2006

Elongated Coins - It's Not a Fad if it Lasts Forever

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for September is called, "Lady Sawbones." Listening to this song is like lifting an oil tanker full of AWESOME and hurling it at your neighbor’s house. 

Meanwhile, I have prepared an educational essay on the Elongated Coin craze. If your computer is “slow,” you can learn about Elongated Coins while you’re waiting for the song to download. If your computer is “fast,” you can spend the next four minutes listening to the song now and wallowing in your ignorance about Elongated Coins.
an Essay in one part about The Elongated Coin craze
by Zach London

I was at one of the rest stops on I-294 last weekend, and they had one of those souvenir penny-stamping machines. You put in two quarters and a penny, turn the crank, and it scrunches your penny into an oblong disc with a commemorative picture of Abraham Lincoln and the phrase, "Illinois, the Land of Lincoln."

Before I ponied up the 51 cents, I did a quick search on LexisNexis, and confirmed that defacing money is illegal under United States Code Title 18 Part 1 Chapter 17 § 331. Specifically, “Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States... shall be fined up to $2000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

My initial feeling was that an object that would commemorate the great times I had at this particular Chicagoland rest stop might be worth a little hard time. On the other hand, it was hard to ignore the fact that the government-issued penny ALREADY HAS a picture of Abraham Lincoln on it. His face is at a delicate angle on the elongated penny, as opposed to the stark profile on the standard US Mint version. Nevertheless, it is unmistakably the same guy. When you tally up the 51 cent fee and the $2000 fine, it comes out to a pretty stiff price for a better view of the left side of Lincoln's forehead. If I'm going to pay that kind of money, I want to see the FULL MONTY, Mr. President. At least then I would have that tantalizing image to keep me warm during all of those lonely nights in prison between now and 2011. 

Despite their lack of popularity among pretty much everyone, Elongated Coins have been in production since the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. The penny smashing/squishing machines can be found at theme parks, novelty restaurants, aquariums, and observation decks all over the world. Here is the leading website for EC (Elongated Coin) fanatics.

Their slogan is, "For the SERIOUS EC Collector! Less like a hobby... more like an addiction!" This puts a slightly more positive slant on Elongated Coin collecting than their old slogan, "Can you imagine something worth even less than a penny? We can!"

Here are some of the most collectible Elongated Coins. Keep an eye out for them!

Girl Scouts of America Turns 90
Both Jesus and this Rooster Love You
Well-Hung Rake-Limbed People of Guam