Tregoning and Co. presents A Pocket Full of Change


Michael Gill, A Pocket Full of Change, Parent Teacher Nanny Edition, 2015. Woodcut and Movable Type, 9 X 9 inches, plate 8 X 8 inches (detail).


If you put a penny on the railroad track and leave it to be crushed by a passing train, it will flatten to an odd shape that might reach the diameter of a quarter, depending, on how many wheels roll over it before the coin flips off into the gravel.

If the penny was minted before 1982, it was solid copper. If your penny was minted after that, it was only copper plated, and the pounding of the wheels on the rail might split the copper covering to reveal the cheap zinc beneath.

I didn’t start putting pennies on railroad tracks until I was an adult. There were no tracks near my childhood home in North Olmsted, Ohio, so the opportunity didn’t come up.

But Lakewood and Cleveland are crossed over and over by Norfolk and Southern, CSX, and other freight lines, as well as the Rapid Transit. As an adult, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to explore the behavior of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and all the coins under the intense pressure of passing trains.

Each coin denomination behaves differently. The weight of the train always smears them into useless forms, flat and elongated, never quite symmetrical. But when crushing a dime, for example, the copper layer between the faces always spreads out to make a ring around the silver center, like a bull’s eye. Crushing half dollars and silver dollars makes something resembling a shiny potato chip.



My experiments in the re-forging of US currency via rail traffic play out in a new letterpress book, illustrated with original wood block pictures: A Pocket Full of Change. It’s the story of a boy who, coin by coin, puts all the money in his pocket on train tracks, just to see how it goes. He weighs money against experience, and decides to see it through.  The book is full of multi-color wood block prints, and imagery from Northeast Ohio: specific buildings, streets, and skyline perspectives, vernacular housing styles, and even examples of the region’s street art.



The twenty, multicolor wood block pictures in A Pocket Full of Change are made with a total of more than 150 blocks of oak and shina. Each book is hand bound by the author using Mohawk Superfine paper and all archival materials. A Parent / Teacher sub-edition – includes additional text set by linotype at Madison Press.


Michael Gill: A Pocket Full of Change

Wood block artist book and prints: October 16 – December 18

Andrea Hahn: Collage: October 16 – December 18


Tregoning and Company

1300 W 78th St

Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 281-8626