On Monday, November 5th, Braxton County became home to its first penny press. Penny presses are machines that will press a design into a U.S. penny. You may have noticed them while on vacation or in popular tourist destinations. The designs found on these unique souvenirs are usually related to the attraction or area where the press is located. Typically, the price of pressing a penny is fifty cents.
Braxton County’s first penny press will be placed in the Braxton County Visitors Center, located at 208 Main Street in Sutton. The press designs will feature the Sutton Dam, the West Virginia State Seal, and the Flatwoods Monster.
Penny pressing has become a collector craze, spawning many websites and apps aimed at helping enthusiasts collect one of every unique design. The first penny press was built in 1818 by a jeweler in Vienna. The first American penny press was made in 1892. It takes over 10,000 pounds of pressure to press a penny. Luckily, the machine is geared to transform many turns of the crack into small movement, but a lot of pressure. So, anyone who can turn a crank, can press a penny.
Did you know that pre-1982 pennies are the ideal choice for penny presses? This is because pennies made before 1982 were made from solid copper. When pressed, the pennies leave the machine with an even copper color. Pennies produced after 1982 have a zinc core, which can become exposed during the pressing process and leave the pressed penny with streaks of silver that will later dull to a dark gray.
If pressing pennies is your past time, or this is the first you’ve heard of it but have to try it out, come down to the Braxton County Visitors Center and take home a pocket-sized piece of Braxton.