Detective work can be a fun part of the hobby. Well okay, maybe just for a few of us. :-) Still, researching a coin to uncover its history can establish provenance and authenticity. ParkPennies gets questions like "I found a nickel / dime / quarter / token variation of a pressed penny at a Disneyana Show! Is it real? Is it from the park?". Yes in my opinion, chances are the coin is "real". But read on if you wish. :-) Edited tips shared by fellow collectors and website visitors follow.
Visitor Tip: The 2020s may be a great time to acquire scarce Disneyland pressed coins. Many Cast Members and "people in the industry" between 1987 and 2021, are now retiring or downsizing. The mementos they collected over the years are surfacing. Also, when estates are settled, some prized off-denomination coins, Cast Member exclusive coins and even cherished award / retirement coins or framed sets may surface. So, there are probably more of these coins looking for good homes in the 2020s than in the past and probably more than will be seen in future years.
Visitor Tip: Most all onstage post 2004 coins have Disneyland backstamps1. A two-sided coin of course requires both an obverse coin die that was usually engraved and tested off-site for Disney and the matching reverse die that was almost always made at the park. So, the presence of a correct obverse and reverse combination is a fairly good indication that the coin was rolled at the DLR. But, the absence of a backstamp does not mean the coin wasn't rolled at the DLR. Coins that are known to have backstamps onstage are also commonly known to have been pressed without backstamps. Blank back coins may have been pressed without a backstamp for proofing or during machine set up and / or disassembly / cancellation. Additionally, some post 2004 onstage coins have been issued with and without backstamps. For example the CM0021 event coin is a blank back version of the onstage DL0257.
Visitor Tip: Sometimes provenance can be validated via coin die progression. Coin dies progressively change over time. There are changes or the lack of them like die wear, added copyright notices, coin grip modifications or especially coin die cancellation that all help authenticate the coin. Often these changes are noted in the guides. (Example based only on wear: This guide noted sharp, early DL0011 Pirates of the Caribbean pressed cent in comparison to this later guide noted worn and comparatively blurry pressing.) Obviously, the subject coin's wear between these two examples will tell us if the coin was pressed while "onstage", even if early or late. So, we should be comfortable that the subject coin is both authentic and period, not pressed off-property by a "retired" open or counterfeit coin die. However, wear indications at the extremes shouldn't indicate a subject coin is not authentic and period. Fresh, no wear off-denomination coins may have been pressed by the engraver before the dies arrived at the DLR. Also, once at the DLR, the the subject coin could have been pressed during setup or at the very end of service before cancellation with or without backstamps. (From Boomer's observations, blank back and stamp back off-denomination coins are about equally scarce. However, blank back coins most commonly pressed on new coin dies.)
Visitor Tip: "Disney themed coins that aren't from the park" can also have significant collectible and monetary value. If you find a coin not listed at ParkPennies.com, let us know. We will gladly give you credit for the find and immortalize your name on the website! :-)
Helpful list of canceled coin dies: Here are links to examples of "retired2" / "canceled" coins as well as a list of coin dies acknowledged as canceled or as numismatists would say "closed". Advanced collectors will say that "retired2" dies are no longer planned to be used, but could be used to press more "original coins". On the other hand, "canceled / closed" coin dies are modified / marked so that "original coins" cannot be made again. It is important to note that coins are not canceled, coin dies are canceled. Confusingly, coins rolled on canceled coin dies are often referred to as "canceled coins". However, they are are really proof that the coin die was canceled. In my humble opinion, I believe most Disneyland Resort coin dies were canceled. Here is another link to the Canceled Coin Die List. More coin dies will be added to the list as we get caught up.
Where are some of the places that collectors might find scarce coins? Garage sales by Cast Members or their family because of retirement, downsizing or to settle an estate are not unusual. Although most collectors can't often attend these sales in person, secondary sources for these items include Disneyana shows (Frank & Son, NFFC / DFC ), swap meets and online sales (Van Eaton, Etsy, eBay etc.). Back in the day, even a metal reclamation center had "Wishing Well" finds! A related source of "Wishing Well" coins back in the day were Cast Members who had bid on bags of "non-US coins" which included scrapped / recovered pressed coins, some of which were from... the Arcade Shop trash! So, in my opinion, it takes luck, imagination and a good network to find scarce, off-denomination, prototype or related pressed coin items like marquees. After these hard-to-find collectibles have traveled from say, an estate sale to a picker to a Disneyana show or eBay... they of course will find their way to, (if you have my luck :-), a fellow collector. So, fellow collectors can also be a great source of hard to find elongated coins and related items, especially if have a scarce coin to trade.
1 DN Prototype coins and some Cast Member coins are an exceptions to the backstamp indicator. Because most prototype coins were only "Test Rolls", they usually did not get close enough to completion to be paired with a reverse die. Coin dies that were awarded / gifted to Cast Members were sometimes used to press limited coin sets e.g. nickel, dime, quarter, often primarily for family members. (Example: The Bill Hogarth Signature Set)
2 When Disney cancels a coin die, they sometimes press what they call "Proof Coins" to show the cancel mark and provide "proof" that the die has been canceled. From then on, the coin / die is referred to as "retired". This can be confusing with longtime coin collectors. I know it is for me. :-)
Related: Scarce Denominational Variations of Onstage Disneyland Pressed Coin Designs.
Related: A Tribute to Disneyland's Pressed Coin Heroes of the Past