Q&A: Students on their collections


Nikol Slatinska

Meet Billie Huang and Jeffrey Mullen, two seniors who have been collecting stickers and pressed pennies, respectively, for a significant chunk of their lives.

Billie Huang, senior

When did you start collecting stickers?
“I started in eighth grade. I kind of just wanted something to put on my computer, and then it went from there.”
Do you remember the first sticker you got?
“I think it was the University of Virginia sticker from my parents; I think that was the first sticker I ever put on my computer.”
Do you have any favorite stickers?
“I like this one because I wrote In ‘n Out about how much I like their burgers, and then they sent me back six of these, and I was like ‘Holy sh*t, that’s so cool,’ and it was a really personalized letter. It was like, ‘Dear Mr. Billie Huang’ I guess they assumed I was a man because of Billie but they wrote me back and were like, ‘Thank you for being a customer,’ and all that stuff. Then they sent me these, and I thought they were really cool.”
“I also like this one because I’m from Virginia, and I really like Vineyard Vines, and it’s those two things all in one.”
How have you accumulated all these stickers since eighth grade?
“When I travel, usually there will be stores that I’ll shop at, and they’ll give you a sticker when you buy something, and if you’re just in a big store like REI, there are stickers lying out for you to take. But most of these are from when I’ve bought stuff, like this one was from when I bought my Yeti.”
Do you end up using most of your stickers?
“Usually I give them to people, but they remind me of all the trips that I’ve taken and the places I’ve been.”[vc_gallery interval=”3″ images=”301651,301649″ img_size=”thumbnail, 800×700″]

Jeffrey Mullen, senior

When did you start collecting pressed pennies?
“It would’ve been the first time I went to Disney World, so 2006 I think. I got my first book and filled that up, and then I started going to Branson to see my grandparents and got a lot of pressed pennies there. And then just random events here and there; if there was a pressed penny machine I’d grab a pressed penny.”
“I would usually just ask my parents or grandparents, ‘Hey, can I have 50 cents and a penny?’ Because you have to put two quarters, so you would think a pressed penny costs one cent, but it’s 51 cents. I guess that’s how they do the quarters. You put in three quarters and get a pressed quarter.”
What’s the process of getting a penny pressed?
“At Disney World, or pretty much anywhere where there’s a pressed penny machine, there’s this wooden box; it’s kind of tall, but it has glass, and there’s a wheel with a cog that has different pressed penny shapes. You put a penny up at the top, push it in, and then whatever design you had it set to, you turn the crank, and the crank pushes the design onto the penny. The penny pops up at the bottom.”
What made you want to start collecting pressed pennies?
“They were just cool; I didn’t really have a motive back then.”
How long did you collect them for?
“It lasted for probably seven years.
Do you have a favorite penny or one with a special backstory?
“I forget I have some of these. The pressed pennies… you would get them one or two at a time however many you grabbed from the machine, so literally they just say where you were at the time. I have a Jessica Rabbit penny, probably from Disney World.”
“I got almost this entire book at the same time. I got one in Houston; my aunt and cousins live there, and I haven’t been back in a really long time. This one’s from the Kennedy Space Center; I forgot I even went to that.”
“My parents got some in Las Vegas and gave them to me. There were a few times my parents went to different places and got me pressed pennies from there, like this one. My parents got it six years ago, and they went to a gem mine. I also went to Georgia, but I forgot I got a pressed penny there. I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to. When I was little, my grandparents would take my cousins and me on a trip every year, and we would go to Tennessee, or Florida, or we went to Wyoming, we’ve been to South Dakota, Colorado, and I would get a couple pressed pennies from each place.”
What about the beef jerky one?
“I have an idea; I think I was in Tennessee… no, we were in Missouri. We took a trip to this weird town, and there were a bunch of outlets and little shops and stuff. One of them was specifically for beef jerky, and it was pretty good.”
Where did you get the booklets for the pennies?
“If a place has a lot of pressed penny machines, usually it has a book you can buy to put them in so you don’t lose them.”
Do you ever show your collection to anyone or bring it up?
“No, these have been in a drawer collecting dust. This is my only true collection, and collections don’t really come up unless they’re really obscure and you’re currently doing it.”
Would you ever collect more pressed pennies?
“Yeah, if I go on a trip and see a pressed penny machine, I’m going to get one. I would have to.”
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