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Flat-Line Time for the Squished Penny Museum

After 11 years, Pete Morelewicz and Christine Henry have closed their Squished Penny Museum.
After 11 years, Pete Morelewicz and Christine Henry have closed their Squished Penny Museum. (By John Kelly -- The Washington Post)

"No matter what background people came from, they always seemed to leave fans," Pete said.

That's because the museum was a slice of home, said Christine, 36, who works for the federal government and makes grants to museums -- although not, it should be pointed out, her own. After a day spent trudging through cavernous galleries, the intimate setting -- shoes in the vestibule, cats wandering around -- was soothing.

The couple has more than 6,000 squished pennies, although only 250 were ever on display at one time.

"That's about all anyone can see before their eyes start glazing over," said Pete. (You can see some at their Web site, http://www.squished.com.)

They mounted the occasional specialty exhibition, such as the well-received "Oval Officers: Profiles in Copper," a display of 72 presidential pennies.

Christine said even with 6,000 squished pennies, they are not among the hobby's most rabid fans. "A lot of them think we're not serious enough," she said. These might be those who consider the term "squished pennies" vulgar, preferring "elongated coins."

(Few could question Pete's devotion. In April, he lost most of his left pinkie in an incident involving an electric squisher they keep in the basement.) With the museum closed, Pete and Christine can return to what they like the most: searching the kitsch-scape for more squished pennies. "That's why we got into it in the first place," said Pete. "We call it tuning our copper radar."

A Week at Camp

Donated to Send a Kid to Camp yet? Your gift will help at-risk kids spend a week in the woods. Our goal by July 26: $475,000. Our total so far: $166,874.

To make your tax-deductible donation:

Make a check or money order payable to "Send a Kid to Camp" and mail it to P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237.

To contribute online, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

To donate by MasterCard or Visa by phone, call 202-334-5100.

To take a video tour of the Squished Penny Museum, go tohttp://www.washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.


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