Lincoln Penny (One-Cent Coin)

Circulating Coins

Background

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Nickel | Dime | QuarterHalf Dollar | Native American $1 | Presidential $1

History

The image on the first penny was of a lady with flowing hair symbolizing liberty.  The coin was larger and made of pure copper, while today’s smaller coin is made of copper and zinc.  It was one of the first coins made by the United States Mint after it was created in 1792.

In 1857, Congress authorized the United States Mint to strike the penny with 88% copper and 12% nickel.  The new coins featured a flying eagle on the obverse and a wreath on the reverse.  The “Indian Head” design appeared from 1859-1909.

From 1909 to 1958, the Lincoln “wheat” penny obverse was paired with a reverse that featured two sheaves of wheat flanking the inscriptions ONE CENT and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. From 1959 to 2008, the reverse featured an image of the Lincoln Memorial designed by Frank Gasparro commemorating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

In 2009, the United States Mint issued four different pennies throughout the year in recognition of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth and centennial of the first year of the Lincoln cent.  The themes on the reverses represent the four major aspects of Lincoln’s life:

  • Birth and Early Childhood in Kentucky (1809-1816)
  • Formative Years in Indiana (1816-1830)
  • Professional Life in Illinois (1830-1861)
  • Presidency in Washington, D.C. (1861-1865)
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Characteristics

Obverse (heads): Show the familiar Victor David Brenner likeness of President Lincoln featured since 1909.

Reverse (tails): Was first issued in 2010 and is emblematic of Lincoln’s preservation of the United States as a single and united country. It features a union shield and scroll with the inscription ONE CENT.

Obverse Inscriptions

  • LIBERTY
  • IN GOD WE TRUST
  • Year

Reverse Inscriptions

  • UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
  • ONE CENT

Mint and Mint Mark

Specifications

Composition Weight Diameter Thickness Edge No. of Reeds
Copper Plated Zinc
2.5% Cu
Balance Zn
2.500 g
0.750 in.
19.05 mm
1.52 mm Plain N/A

Artist Information

Obverse
  • Sculptor: Victor D. Brenner
Reverse
  • Sculptor: Joseph Menna, Sculptor-Engraver
  • Designer: Lyndall Bass
Content last reviewed April 25, 2017

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