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The Lincoln Cent Gets Ready for Its 100th Birthday

Jul 11, 2008
In 2009 the Lincoln Cent will celebrate its 100th birthday. This will also mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. To celebrate the occasion, there are many important numismatic events planned.

The Lincoln Cent was first introduced in 1909 to celebrate the 100th anniversary Lincoln's birth. The coin was unique at the time since it was the first circulating US coin to bear the image of an actual person. All previous coins had featured the image of the mythical Liberty figure.

The coin's designer was Vincent D. Brenner. The obverse design was based on a Matthew Brady photograph of President Lincoln. Brenner had created a plaque of Lincoln based on the photograph, which would later become the basis for the bust of Lincoln used on the cent. The original reverse design of the Lincoln Cent featured two Wheat Ears. Throughout its history of the Lincoln Cent has undergone a number of changes from the original design.

The reverse design of the coin was changed in 1959 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. The new design featured a rendition of the Lincoln Memorial by Frank Gasparro. Close examination will show that the Lincoln Monument appears within the Lincoln Memorial. As a result, Lincoln appears on both the obverse and the reverse of the coin.

The original composition of the Lincoln Cent was 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. During the coin's long history, this composition was changed twice. In 1943 the composition was changed to zinc coated steel in order to preserve copper for the war effort. The composition reverted to its original the following year. In 1982 the composition was permanently changed to copper coated zinc in response to rising copper prices.

After all of these changes the Lincoln Cent is preparing for more. The 2009 celebration of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth and the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Cent will be centered around four new reverse designs. These different designs will be released into circulation approximately every three months. Each design will represent an important stage from Lincoln's life. The obverse of the coin will continue to bear the likeness of Lincoln as designed by Vincent D. Brenner.

In 2009, the composition of the Lincoln Cent may also have a brief rebirth. There are provisions for the US Mint to produce and issue collector's versions of the 2009 Lincoln Cents in the original composition of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. These versions would likely be included in special numismatic coin sets.

The final important numismatic item planned for 2009 is a commemorative silver dollar honoring Lincoln. These numismatic coins will be minted and issued in a quantity of up to 500,000 coins and sold directly by the US Mint. The coins will contain 90% silver and bear a design emblematic of the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln.

Starting in 2010, the reverse design of the Lincoln Cent will be changed once again. The new design will be emblematic of Lincoln's preservation of the United States as a unified country. This new design will permanently replace the former Lincoln Memorial reverse.
About the Author
Michael Zielinski is an internet entrepreneur and coin collector. Learn more about the 2009 Lincoln Cent as the coin's release date approaches. Stay up to date with the latest coin collecting news.
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