Jenkinson’s Aquarium – Point Pleasant, NJ

One weekend back in February my daughter Hanna woke up a little earlier than usually, and when I went to get her she immediately asked to see some fish at the aquarium.  I was taken back a bit as this was the first she had asked for this and also it was very random to be asking for this at 6 o’clock in the morning.  But being the sucker I am for her I said we would go once everyone else was awake.  We decided against going to the large Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ we have gone to in the past.  It’s a little further away, and I found it was almost too big for Hanna to keep her interest.  Instead we took a shorter trip to Point Pleasant Beach.  Yes you read that right we headed to the beach in February, but just check out how beautiful the sandy/snowy beach looked.

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The water even looked cold, and the wind coming off the Atlantic ocean made it feel even colder.  This was the emptiest I had ever seen a boardwalk in New Jersey and it was kind of eery.  From where we parked we only had a short walk over to the Jenkinson’s Aquarium.

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We paid the small reasonable admission fee and headed inside.  Hanna was really excited to see all the sea creatures and of course the other kids that were visiting as well.

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The aquarium is not very big which is probably due to people wanting to get back on to the beach during the warmer season, but they still pack a lot of things inside.  The tanks contain all the usual creatures, and there is also a second floor with a touch tank.  Below is a picture of Hanna trying to get up the nerve to touch a small ray.

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We eventually walked back down to the main floor and near the penguin exhibit I saw two magical pieces of machinery.

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Years ago I had visited this aquarium and came across the 3 design electric penny machine, but it hadn’t been previously listed on the penny collector.com website.  I scrambled to get spare change at the time to press the designs, and once I was hope I took great pride in adding this new location to their website for other collectors.  Right before this trip I did check the website and it was listed that this original machine had been retired and replace with a new 4 design hand crank model.  Always being prepared I had brought enough change for the new machine and some extra just incase another machine was found.  Good thing I did.  As you can see in the above picture both machines were there.

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The original machine was in working order but did have the same designs I had collected 6 years prior.  I figured since I was here I would press a new set.

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For the most part these pennies pressed pretty well, and only one rolled a little short.  The designs included a Seal, two Penguins, and a Sea Turtle.

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The second and brand new machine had some very nice cabinet art work and was in perfect working order.  Hanna had a great time trying to help me press the pennies.

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Each of these designs said Jenkinson’s Aquarium and had images of a Clown Fish, Penguin, Seahorse and a Shark.  With the two sets of pennies in my pocket we finished our visit to the Aquarium which was just the right size for Hanna.  He had a great time and it seemed to keep her entertained right up until we had to leave.

Coin Collecting Packages for my Friends – Follow Up #1

My parents just got back from their annual trip to Florida for some spring break Major League Baseball.  During their trip they had decided to visit Orlando and stayed at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.  This allowed them quick access to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Disney property where the Atlanta Braves play during spring training.

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Knowing that my parents would be staying at a resort with a nice assortment of penny machines I put together a Coin Collecting Package which I had written about previously.

After getting back in town they stopped by to see the grand kids and also drop off some gifts they had picked up.  As my children eagerly sat on the couch waiting for their gifts I was doing the same thing.  My dad handed me the ziptop bag and I eagerly tore into it to see how the coins turned out.

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The Caribbean Beach Resort had four pressed coin machines available on property.  Just as a FYI you do NOT need to be a resort guest to access the machine.  I have visited numerous resorts to collect the coins and just let the security guard know you are there to use the machines.  They are more than happy to let you through.  Since my parents had a busy schedule my father wandered around the resort late one night to visit each machine for me.

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First up was the machine at the Custom House.  This is really just the registration building for the resort.  In years past you would check in here to get your room assignment.  But starting just last year you can sign up for online checking which triggers a text message on your cell phone with your room number when it’s ready.  Makes this custom house kind of obsolete but thankfully there’s still a penny machine available inside.

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The pennies at this machine included images of Lilo & Stitch eating ice cream, Jafar from Aladdin, and another Lilo &Stitch playing a ukulele.  Thankfully for my father’s sake the other three machines were all located at the same place.  Near the big resort pool and recreation area is the Goombay Arcade.

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As you walk in along the far wall is a nice cabinet containing the three machines.  There are two penny machines that surround a quarter machine.

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Starting with the machine on the far left as I mentioned was a three design penny machine.

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The pennies at this machine has some familiar faces from one of my favorite Pixar movies Cars.  Lightning McQueen, Mack and Miss Sally.

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The middle machine has one quarter design available.  As a reminder the quarter machines take five quarters to use, four are the price to press and the fifth is the lucky one to be pressed.

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This is an interesting design and nicely themed for the Caribbean Beach Resort.  It has Goofy dressed up like a Pirate with a Jolly Roger flag.

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The last machine on the right side of the cabinet and also had three penny designs.

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These designs came our very nicely.  There is Nemo obviously from another Pixar favorite Finding Nemo, Mickey in a Tuxedo, and Sleeping Beauty aka Princess Aurora.

Overall I think my dad did very well.  In previous trips I usually only give him one or two machines to collect, but he found all four and came back with some great additions for my collection.  He did say that the map, and penny design images I included did help make it easier for him.  As always I appreciated him taking the time out of his vacation to help me.  He said it gave him an excuse to check out the entire resort, and he was happy to help anytime.  Bwahaha (Evil laugh) he’s in trouble now!

Coin Collecting Packages for my Friends

It’s finally happening.  The cold weather is slowly starting to leave us here in Jersey.  This is the time of year that a lot of us collectors look forward to as we can start planning our trips for new pressed coins.  I usually get a little over zealous and have trips scheduled for most weekend along with at least one week-long trip somewhere.  But then reality strikes and some of the short trips need to be bumped or canceled.

Something else that also starts to happen at least for me is that my friends and family start to let me know about trips they are taking.  They know of my pressed coin collection and don’t seemed to concerned about being enablers and feeding into the obsession.  Deep down I think they actually like the adventure of finding the machines and using the machines but they’ll never admit it.

The downside of this knowledge is that I can easily go overboard requesting they collect every coin within a 100 mile radius.  However I really do feel guilty sometimes as I know how my own vacations are schedule and there isn’t always a lot of extra time available.  Usually I end up just picking a few machines that are as close to where their hotel is or a theme park, zoo or other attraction they are already visiting.  I never want them to have to make a special trip just to use one machine that worst case scenario may be out-of-order.  Over the years I have come up with different ways to ensure my friends and family have enough coins to press, and now even take the time to get images of the coins I’m looking for.

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I’m mentioned in the past that my parents are big New York Mets fans and go down to Port St Lucie in Florida for Spring Training Baseball season.  This years trip has them in Port St Lucie for the first half of their trip and then they are heading to Orlando.  The picture above is of the package I created for them as they informed me they would be staying on Walt Disney Property for a few nights at the Caribbean Beach Resort.  Everything is put into a gallon size ziptop bag for easy storage and can just be placed in their luggage.

2016 Caribbean Beach Resort Map

One of the first things I did was do a google search for a copy of the resort map.  I use just basic photo editing software on my computer.  As you can see above I then insert boxes with the locations of each machine and some details about the coins located there.

Coin Bag Inserts

Next using my computer’s word processor I create the above table.  This is really just to help keep everything spaced and organized.  In each box I list the location and then grab a picture of the coins from various websites available online.  Once printed I then cut out each box and insert it into little ziptop bags that have the appropriate number of quarters and pennies needed for that machine.

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In the past I know my friends and family mean well but sometimes a location would have multiple machines and they didn’t always understand my hand written notes.  This was something I started doing just a few years ago and it has worked like a charm.  Obviously there is a bit of work to be done on my end but to me it’s all part of the fun.

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Once I have the map completed and all the little bags filled I always double-check them with each other to make sure I didn’t overlook something.  Then I fold it all up and put in the larger ziptop bag.  All that’s left is to wait for them to return so I can see how they turned out.

I have a friend at work that always goes to Walt Disney World around July 4th and stays at the Wilderness Lodge Resort.  In anticipation of her trip I already put together a package for her which is pictured below.  This is a little risky to do this far in advance as the coins can change at any time but I always like to try to be as prepared as possible.

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These two above examples just happen to both be for Disney, but I do the same for other attractions.  Most zoos, aquariums and theme parks have digital versions of their maps available online that I just download and use the same process listed above.  I’m always very appreciative to all my friends and family for taking the time out of their vacations to press some extra coins for me and the least I can do is make it as easy for them as possible.  Hopefully it doesn’t take up too much of their time and they can get back to what they had originally intended to do.

Decades Set #6 of 8 – Downtown Disney, CA

Just this past week the latest Decades set of pressed coins became available on at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney California.  The latest news is that these decades sets are the last of the 60th Diamond Celebration designs.  This latest set is the 6th to be available giving a total of 54 coins released to far.  The last two sets are rumored to also be the completion of this Decades set.

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As with the other sets there are three designs available in an electric machine.  The machine is the same one located at the World of Disney store and is by the middle set of entrance/exit doors.  This set includes designs for the decade of 1985-1994.

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Above is a close up of the first coin.  The design celebrates Start Tours which debuted in 1987 and Captain EO which started in 1986.

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The second penny design is of the dragon from Fantastic! the nighttime show which debuted in 1992.

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The last coin has an image of the world-famous Splash Mountain which opened in 1989.  I’m not personally a huge fan of this ride but I was dragged on numerous times by my little sister.  All three of the pennies state ’85 ’94 Disneyland.

Another nice addition to this huge special celebration set.  I really liked the Start Tours design as there really are not too many Star Wars related penny designs available.  With the last two decades sets on the way in the future be sure to pick up a set soon before they are gone.  I’ve seen the previous sets on eBay but prices are getting pretty high and quantities seems limited.  Happy collecting!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all my Irish friends.  Make sure to raise a pint and chow down on some corned beef and cabbage.  My Aunt lives in Ireland and always jokes about how America’s celebrate St. Patrick’s day but what can I say it’s one of my favorite holidays and corned beef is one of my weaknesses.

St Patricks Day

However you decide to celebrate, enjoy this special holiday whether you are Irish or not.  It’s a great day to let loose and have some fun.

1893 Columbian Exposition Elongated Seated Dime

Among elongated coin collectors there are always discussions about when the first pressed coin was made.  The common answer that most accept is that during the 1892-1893 Columbian Exposition that was held in Chicago, Illinois there were a few different designs available to press during the event.

My collection primarily consists of designs I pressed myself during vacations or day trips with my family and aren’t much older than the early to mid-90s.  However as a collector I always have my eyes open should any of these early coin designs become available.  Unfortunately finding these can be a little difficult and when you do come across them especially online it can be hard to ensure they are authentic and not a reproduction.  But just recently I was able to acquire one through a very trusted and source.  The version I received is the Columbian Exposition 1893 design and was pressed on a 1891 seated dime.

Columbian Ex 1893 Front

Above is an image of the front design for the coin, and below is a shot of the back where you can see the year of the coin 1891.

Columbian Ex 1893 Back

I was able to get my hands on this coin and a few others from a very well-known gentleman in the elongated collectors community.  Mr. Ray Dillard has been a past President of the TEC club, an active enthusiast and an amazing ambassador of the hobby.  His elongated coin collection is really one of a kind.  I was able to meet Mr. Dillard during the ANA Convention that was held in Philadelphia a few years ago.  He was more than happy to take some time and talk with me about various elongated coin related topics and I really appreciated the time he spent with me that day.

Recently Mr. Dillard has offered a list of elongated coins for sale.  There are some really great coins on this list and you know they are coming from a very credible source.  Here is a link to the list (ray-dillard-pricelist5315).  If you see any you are interested in Mr. Dillard’s contact information is included on the first page.  But be quick as many of these items may not be available for very long.

A special thank you again to Mr. Dillard for everything you do for our hobby, it is all very much appreciated.

Travel Case – Always be Prepared

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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Franklin Institute 8 Design Penny Machine – Philadelphia, PA

Just a few days ago I was checking out pennycollector.com to see if there were any new machines around my area and I almost jumped out of my seat when I scanned through the Philadelphia locations.  Last year I had taken my daughter Hanna on a day trip to Philly checking out some historical sites and ended with the Franklin Institute which is a huge science museum.  We had collected all the coins at that time, but brand new for 2016 they have added another machine.  Even more cool is that it’s one of those new super-multi design machines by the pennymen.

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Last spring I wrote about the first time I was able to use one of these machines which was located in Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.  Below is the marquee at the top of this new machine.  I like the “Limited Edition” as it makes me hope there will be more designs available in the future.

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This machine functions exactly the same way as the one I used in Florida, except I did notice that this machine appears to be using coin blanks instead of pennies which are supplied by the machine.  To use the machine you start by making your selections on the touch screen.

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You can press one design for a dollar, or get all eight for $5.  You can pay with cash, credit, or Apple Pay.  Being the techie I am I used Apple Pay and elected for all eight designs.

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Above is a picture of the working parts of the machine and the die used to press each design along with samples of each coin.  Below I have included a short video I took of the machine in action.

After the machine finished pressing my designs I gathered them up and finished checking out the museum and eventually headed home.

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You can see each design came out really nice.  I know when I used the machine in Disney almost every coin rolled a little short and the pennies used in the machine were not the greatest so the end results were a little disappointing.  But these really came out nice.

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The first four designs include The Amazing Machine, Your Brain, the Sportszone, and Electricity (very cool exhibits by the way for electricity, so cool they will make your hair stand on end).

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The second set of four designs are the Changing Earth, Kidscience, the Train Factory, and the Franklin Air show.

So if you are near Philly and in need of a science fix make sure to drop by the Franklin Institute.  It’s a beautiful museum with a whole lot of really great exhibits, and interactive things for people of all ages to enjoy.  The museum already had five penny machines available and this now makes six.  Plus these new machines are really cool and getting eight new pressed coins is a nice addition to your collection.

Liberty Empire, Inc – New York, NY

What a long day I’d had so far.  It started early at the Natural History Museum and has been non-stop since.  Thankfully I was moving away from the busy area of Times Square as I walked towards my last penny machine.

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Located on 5th Ave between 33rd and 34th Streets is one of many NYC souvenir stores.  This just is actually located right across the street from the Empire State Building which makes it a pretty busy location.

I’ve been up in the Empire State building in the past and it’s a really cool experience.  When you’re at the top in the Observation area you get the most amazing views of New York City, but be forewarned it does get pretty windy way up there.  On this trip I wasn’t heading up to the top but instead just to the gift shop across the street to use the penny machine located right outside on the sidewalk.

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The machine itself had some really nice New York themed artwork, and especially liked the topper with the manhole cover stating Collectible Pennies.

Liberty Empire Pennies

The designs available at this location included the New York City Skyline, ESB (Empire State Building, the New York Yankees, and Ellis Island.  With this coins stored away I stood there for a few moments enjoying the fact that I had managed to visit all the places I had wanted to see.  I was also able to get almost all the pressed pennies I wanted and only missed 3 sets due to broker machines.  Not too shabby.

My cousin had sent me a few txt messages as they had spent most of their day visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.  He then walked across the Brooklyn bridge and back to the Manhattan side which is where I ended up meeting him right near New York City Hall.  We sat on some benches near a few street performers and watched the show while getting caught up on things since our last visit together.  With the sun starting to go down we headed to the subway station and took a train over to Brooklyn and came up to street level right by the Barclays Center.

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Once the gates opened we headed inside and made our way to our seats.  This was my first time visiting this new arena and it was beautiful.  Really a great place to watch a hockey game.

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The New York Islanders were playing the Buffalo Sabres and for most of the game it was close.  But by the end the Sabres had pulled out the win with a 2-1 final score.

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It had been a really long and busy day.  Unfortunately we still had about a 2 hour commute back to Jersey before I finally got into bed.  Luckily I had taken the next day off from work so I was planning on sleeping as long as possible.

Sometimes I think I overdo these trips with trying to fit too many places into one day, but as I heard my pocket jingling with all those new pressed coins I knew I had made the right choice.  My feet were going to be killing me for the next few days, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.