Hello again and here is the fifth and final part of my blog post series on cents! This blog post miniseries has lasted five blogs of separate cent designs, as well as an introduction. I hope y'all enjoy this blog post and find it informative as I wrap up the series. :)
Lincoln Cents were minted from 1909 to the present day, and have had three different designs on the reverse, although there has been one same design on the obverse. There were also four different designs on the reverse in 2009 to commemorate the Bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. The Cent series was started in 1909 to commemorate the centennial of Lincoln's birth, because many credit Lincoln for being the man who ended the Civil War, and because he was also the first president to be assassinated. The design on the reverse has changed three times, in 1959, to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's birth, in 2009, to commemorate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth with four different designs that showed different times during Lincoln's childhood and adulthood. It was then changed again in 2010 to a new design, basically to commemorate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, although it was first minted in 2010 because the four designs minted in 2009 obviously prevented them from starting the new design that year. :)
The first design was the 1909-1959 Wheat Head Cent Design. In 1905 President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt hired Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign the cent, and the four golden denominations, the double eagle, the half eagle, the eagle, and the quarter eagle. Saint-Gaudens submitted a design for the cent that contained an eagle, but that design was adapted for the double eagle once Saint-Gaudens learned that an eagle was no longer permitted on the Cent by law. Then Saint-Gaudens suggested a design with Liberty wearing a Native American War bonnet for the Cent but Theodore Roosevelt decided that they should use that on the gold coins instead of the Cent since the Cent had just seen a design similar to that previously. In 1907, Saint-Gaudens got cancer and he was unable to sculpt things himself, instead he would be carried to his studio for 10 minutes a day to critique the work of his assistants on several projects for the new coins he was designing. On August 3, 1907, Saint-Gaudens died, without having submitted any new designs for the Cent. So, Teddy Roosevelt hired the sculptor Victor David Brenner to design the Cent. As the centennial of President Abraham Lincoln's birthday was coming up, Brenner submitted a design that featured a bust of Lincoln for the obverse of the coin, and the words "one cent" surrounded by pieces of wheat for the reverse design. Though this would be the very first image of a president depicted on any coin, Roosevelt liked the design and authorized it for the Cent, after having it revised several times. Before the Lincoln Cent, there had been no presidents depicted on any coin since this was seen to be too monarchial for the United States of America, especially during the time of George Washington. The Cent was minted starting in 1909, and at the beginning of its production Victor David Brenner's initials were on the reverse of the coin at the bottom of the design, but people saw that as him drawing too much attention to the fact that he had designed the Cent, so, several days after the first day of production, his initials were removed from the reverse and were eventually added back into the design but much smaller then they were originally. To this day, the 1909 VDB cent remains very rare and valuable, especially the 1909S VDB Cent. The Lincoln sent was very popular with the general public, and so it remained in production, unlike the Cent designs from earlier, which had been discontinued fairly quickly, or the design had changed, except for the Indian Head Cent. The cents were all made of 95% copper and 5% zinc, although there were times when the 5% zinc would be changed to 5% tin. Of course, there was also the 1943 steel Cent, which was made since the copper was needed for the war, so it could not be used in the cents.
In 1959, which was the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's birth, the design was changed yet again, although the design on the obverse was not changed, simply the design on the reverse. This new reverse design featured the Lincoln Memorial. This design was done by Frank Gasparo. This design actually came as a surprise to the general public because no announcement had been given about the change of the reverse design and no one in the Mint had leaked the fact that a new reverse design was being planned. There was actually some severe competition in the Mint as for which design would be used for the reverse. Frank Gasparo was the sculptor who was hired, but though he chose a design for the reverse which featured the Lincoln Memorial, he had actually never visited the Lincoln Memorial. Since he had never visited the Lincoln Memorial, people said that his original design turned out to look "like a trolley car." Walter Breen for example called Gasparo's original design "an artistic disaster." Gasparo modified his design, and it was released in production on the reverse of the Cent in 1959. There was great public excitement over the small date and large deep sense of . In 1964 however, a rise in silver prices caused the public to hoard silver coins. Since change became scarce with this problem, hoarding also extended to the cent. Mint Director Eva Adams was concerned that this problem was coming about because collectors were removing cents from the cash flow because they had certain mint marks or dates and mint marks which were needed for their collection. So Adams removed mint marks from all of the cents in 1964, which basically solved the problem. And of course, as you all know, in 1965 all silver was removed from the quarter and dime and dollar coin, which solved most of the hoarding problems. Then, in 1973, a rise in copper prices caused the Mint to make an executive desicion, to change the composition of the cents. They tried changed them to aluminum, but owners of vending machine companies said that the aluminum cents jammed their machines, so that composition was dropped. Then they tried bronze-zinc cents, which was dropped as well, and, due to another rise in copper prices in 1981, they sped up the “brainstorming process”, and in 1982 they changed the composition of the cents to mostly zinc, with a thin outer layer of copper.
In 2009, Lincoln cents with four different reverse designs were issued, in honor of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. The four designs were these:
The first design was a design that featured a log cabin, which was supposed to be the log cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born, and it was supposed to symbolize his birth. This design was created by Richard Masters and sculpted by Jim Licaretz. It was released on Lincoln’s true 200th birthday, on February 12th, 2009.
The next design was Lincoln in his young adulthood or teenage years, and he is shown taking a break from splitting rails, sitting on a log reading a book. This design was created and sculpted by Charles Vickers. It was released on May 14th, 2009.
The next design showed adult Lincoln standing in front of a government building, and this was meant to symbolize the years when he was a governor of Indiana. This design was created by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Don Everhart. It was released on August 13th, 2009.
And the last design showed the half built Capitol dome, and it symbolizes Lincoln’s presidency. It was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Joseph Menna. It was released on November 12th, 2009.
Finally, in 2010, the reverse design was changed one last time. That same design as the design that is on the reverse of the Lincoln Cent today, a shield, with “E Pluberus Unum” across the top. And if you ask me, and I know I’ve said this before in the introductory blog post, but I just like to say it :-), the shield looks a lot like Captain America‘s original shield from the first Captain America movie. The reason the reverse design was changed to this, was because a law was passed that said that the reverse design of the Lincoln cent should have something emblematic of Lincoln’s presidency. Several designs were thought of, including one which featured 13 sheaves of wheat bound together in a wreath, but that was discarded because people said it resembled Germany’s coinage (from before the euro) too much. Eventually a design was chosen that was based off of the American flag, which was the shield design we have today . To this day, coins have not been minted with the Philadelphia mint mint mark for quite some time. Yet, in 2017, Lincoln cents with the shield reverse design were released with the Philadelphia mint mark on them. People were confused about this and some thought that these were fake, counterfeit cents, made by someone who was not aware that the Philadelphia Mint had dropped their mint mark on coins. However, the Mint released a statement that said these were real coins, and the reason that they had been minted with the Philadelphia Mint’s mint mark on them, was because 2017 marked the 225th anniversary of the Philadelphia Mint. They announced that after 2017, the Philadelphia Mint’s mint mark would again be dropped off of coinage. I just thought that was a really cool fun fact to share with y’all. :)
I hope y’all enjoyed not only this blog post, but the whole series. I hope everyone learned something, I know I did... ;) Bye for now!