The DL0001 Mickey Rays image above is acknowledged as the first onstage (non-prototype or pattern) Disney pressed coin design in the world. (Artwork for the First Disney Pressed Penny) It was placed on stage at Disneyland Park in June of 1987 along with a companion machine featuring the DL0002, Bear Country pressed penny. While onstage, the pressed penny coin grip was changed at least twice as shown above. Cast Member recollection, interviews and close examination reveal that the die's original engraving featured an unmodified coin grip slot, possibly too short to grab and hold a coin edge reliably. The next state of the DL0001 had a slightly modified, "Intermediate Grip" and was known to have been on-stage. The third example of a DL0001, has an "extremely modified" coin grip and was most likely onstage the longest time.
In March of 2021 increased collector interest in this coin and the known variations inspired review of all details about the DL0001 coin die. Not to mention more images and facts had been gathered over the preceding 30+ years that were not fully incorporated in the guides. So we set about to remove some of the disdained, usually avoided "we believes", "probablys" and even an "assume" from the DL0001 coin grip supplement to better define the DL0001 varieties.
Some of the key points considered in the review were: 1.) A DL0001 short grip coin which was purchased in 1994 by Robert and Anastasia Hoff. The coin was offered by Claude Hartman, a local long-time Disney elongated coin collector and friend, who graciously offered the personally pressed coin for sale at an Anaheim NFFC Disneyana show. (Coin grip variations were not really noticed or noted in 1990s guide listings or collections.) 2.) eBay did not start business until 1995 and the ParkPennies guides 1997+. Collecting at that time was personal and local for the most part. 3.) Bill Hogarth, a Disneyland Arcade Shop Cast Member at the time the machine was placed onstage had at least one DL0001 and a few DL0001a "mid-mod" zinc coins he pressed at the park while testing the machine. 4.) The DL0001a "mid-mod" and DL0001a "full-mod" coin grip enlargements are in keeping with the way other coin die grips were engraved by / for Disneyland Cast Members at the time. 5.) Two very trusted sources (One Centek and one DLR) stated that the large DL0001 coin die was returned to Centek at least once. The DLR source said the die had uncorrectable coin slippage and short rolls due to the large image size. (The DL0001 was replaced / exchanged for the smaller DL0005) In summary, a few DL0001 short grip coins which were pressed onstage have been identified and we believe the DL0001a "mid-mod" reference coin mentioned in our earliest grip comparison post must have placed with the coin press invoice at the park. There's more, but even I'm falling asleep. :-)
Notes: In January of 2010, an example of an unmodified DL0001 was offered for sale on eBay by a person that stated in their auction: "Here is the very rare first pressed penny made for Disneyland by Centek out of Wheat Ridge, Colorado in 1986. I was part of the ownership group at that time and know that that there are probably just a handful of these coins still floating around. Best of luck to the lucky collector who ends up with this rare coin." Given the owner's statement, ParkPennies.com will (forgive us we don't do this often) assume that the coin auctioned was pressed before the die was shipped to Disneyland. (At least until we can locate a short(er) grip coin that is known to have been pressed onstage at the park.) Scan of a DL0001 with unmodified coin grip is shown above as the "Short Grip DL0001". Update 3/2021 A few DL0001 short grip coins which were pressed onstage have been identified.
In 2011, the sample or proof coin sent with the Centek Disneyland invoice was examined and found to be very similar to the "Intermediate Size Grip DL0001" above. Given the coin was from Colorado, the hone of Centek the machine manufacturer, and third party statements confirmed the owner's claims, we believe, with some certainty, that the sample coin closely represents the state of the coin grip when the first DL0001 coin die was placed onstage. Update 3/2021 A few DL0001 short grip coins which were pressed onstage have been identified which suggests that a "mid-mod" reference coin was placed with the invoice at the park. Update 11/2021 A warranty invoice from 8/18/1987 surfaced. Possibly the machine was returned for repair at that time. Maybe a modification was made to the die at that time?