|Lincoln Wheat Pennies (1909-58)|
US Coins For
The Lincoln cent is the current one cent coin used in the United States. It was adopted in 1909, replacing the Indian head cent; its obverse, featuring a bust of Abraham Lincoln, has been in continuous usage, while its reverse was changed in 1959 to its current design which includes the Lincoln Memorial. In its life span, this coin has weathered two world conflicts, one of which changed it materially, because metals play a vital part in any war effort. The obverse is the longest design used for any circulating American design. When the Lincoln one-cent coin made its initial appearance in 1909, it marked a radical departure from the accepted styling of United States coinage, as it was the first regular coin to bear a portrait other than the mythical Liberty.
President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned Victor David Brenner for the new design. The likeness of President Lincoln on the obverse of the coin is an adaptation of a plaque Brenner executed several years earlier which had come to the attention of President Roosevelt. In addition to the prescribed elements on U.S. coins - LIBERTY and the date - the motto "In God We Trust " appeared for the first time on a coin of this denomination. Due to a controversy over the size and placement of the VDB initials there are four Lincoln coins: 1909 VDB, 1909-S VDB, 1909 and 1909-SA.
The coin's reverse is a very
simple design bearing two wheatheads in memorial style. Between
these, in the center of the coin, are the denomination and UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA, while curving around the upper border is the
national motto, E Pluribus Unum, Latin for "Out of Many,
One." On February 12,
1959, a revised reverse design was introduced as part of the
150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. The imposing marble Lincoln
Memorial provides the central motif, with the legends E Pluribus
Unum and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA completing the design, together
with the denomination. The initials "FG" appear on
the right, near the shrubbery. Abraham Lincoln was the only person
to be depicted on both the obverse and reverse of the same United
The coins struck between 1859 and 1864 contained 88% copper and 12% nickel, as required by law. In 1864, the alloy changed to 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc, and the weight of the coins was reduced from 72 grains to 48 grains.
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