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Penny Smashers in Vancouver

March 30th, 2012 @ 11:34am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Yesterday the Federal Budget was unveiled and it included the news that the Royal Canadian Mint will soon stop producing pennies, saving Canadians 11 million dollars a year. Most of the feedback I saw online was in support of this move but I’m left wondering what I’ll do with the giant bucket of pocket change that has accumulated in one of my kitchen cupboards. If I snooze and don’t get it down to my local Coinstar machine, there’s always the option to turn my 1 cent pieces into pretty little works of copper art: Penny Smashing.

You can find penny smashers or penny pressers placed at attractions and destinations of interest around the world. Pop in a penny, turn the crank, and produce a pressed keepsake with an embossed logo or image commemorating your visit. In Vancouver, several local attractions boast penny smashers including Science World, the Vancouver Aquarium, the Vancouver Lookout, and all ferry terminals.

I reached out to Bob Kronbauer from Vancouver is Awesome who is actually co-presenting the award-winning Penny Smash project. Bob writes:

Todd Falkowsky (of Citizen Brand and The Canadian Design Resource), Scott Hawthorn (of Salt Tasting Room, Native Shoes and Picker Shack Orchard), designer Tyler Quarles and I have been working for the past few months on producing a Vancouver pilot for a project that Todd launched in Toronto a couple of years back. The idea behind PENNY SMASH is to take a souvenir penny press machine (like the ones you see inside tourist attractions) and hijack it to produce truly affordable works of art. ALL of the proceeds go either to charity or grants to artists to launch other creative projects in the city.

The presser made its first appearance at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s FUSE event last November. Since the project was unveiled, Ken Lum‘s penny design was lauded as one of the “Top 10 Designs in Canada”. The other artists include Ian Grais, Jerszy Seymour, and Natalie Purschwitz.

You can find this all-in-one work of art and penny press located inside Salt Tasting Room in Gastown (at 45 Blood Alley). When you purchase and press a penny ($2) from Ken Lum’s design you will also be contributing to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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  • 2 comments

    1. Will have to go do this. My son and I started smashing pennies on vacations over the years. We have quite a collection from the US and Canada. I’ve seen them made into bracelets. Find the machines and making keepsakes is one of our “things”. It’s a bonus that money is going to charity!

    2. Carmelle says:

      I remember I used to have a small collection of these when I was a kid!

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