| Lincoln Cents|
Wheat Ears Reverse
1909 marked the 100th birthday anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, referred to by some as "The Great Emancipator" because of his issuing of The Emancipation Proclamation which outlawed slavery and slave ownership in the United States of America. 1909 was only 44 years after Lincoln's assassination, and many Americans were still living who could remember him and his presidency.
President Theodore Roosevelt was influential in the decision to honor our Civil War president by creating a new one cent coin featuring Lincoln's bust on the obverse, and also to have it done in the year of Lincoln's 100th birthday anniversary. For the reverse of the coin, a design was chosen which incorporated two curved wheat stalks.
It is interesting to note the 1909 Lincoln cent gave Abraham Lincoln a unique spot in the history of US coinage: He became the first real person to have his or her image on a United States coin.
The following table summarizes the major (intentional) varities of the 1909-1958 Lincoln cent in its composition and weight. The Type numbers are arbitrarily assigned my me and do not reflect any official numbering scheme. Note that there are numerous "unintentional" varieites (such as large and small dates, missing mint marks, doubled dies, etc.) which do not fall into the context of this site.
- Designer: Victor D. Brenner
- Diameter: 19 mm (0.75 inch); plain edge
- Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
- Mint Marks: Philadelphia: no mint mark; Denver (D) and San Francisco (S) on obverse below the date
||1909 to 1942;
1947 to 1958
|95% copper, 5% tin and zinc
||steel, coated with zinc
||1944 to 1946
||95% copper, 5% zinc
Note: There appears to be considerable disagreement, even to this day, as to the composition of the 1944 thru 1946 cents. The 'official' name given to the alloy was 'Shell Case Brass', but a formulation of .950 copper mixed with either .050 tin and zinc or just .050 zinc doesn't seem to make a significant difference in the final alloy, and the weights are the same. Perhaps someday I'll get this puzzle figured out.
| Lincoln Cents|
Lincoln Memorial Reverse
1958 marked the 50th year for the Lincoln cent, and it was decided to 'freshen' the design for 1959. Lincoln's portrait would stay on the obverse, but the curved wheat ears reverse was replaced by an image of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. If you look closely at the center of the memorial, you'll see the tiny image of the Lincoln statue at the center of the memorial. That design selection gave Abraham Lincoln yet another unique spot in in the history of US coinage: he became the first real person to have his or her image on both sides of the same United States coin!
In 1962 there was another slight alloy change for the cent. Tin was again omitted from the composition, resulting in an alloy of 95% copper and 5% zinc which was the same alloy used in the years of 1944-1946.
1982 marks yet another year when the assualt on the intrinsic value of our nation's coinage continued. Just as silver was removed from the dime and quarter in 1965, and totally removed from the half dollar in 1970, 1982 marked the year when the cent would lose most of its copper content. Mid-way through that year the composition of the cent was changed from a base alloy of 95% copper and 5% zinc to a (nearly) worthless zinc planchet coated with copper. The proportion of the two metals reversed as the new planchet has an overall composition of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. The size remained the same but the weight was reduced by 20% because zinc is lighter than copper.
Designer: Victor D. Brenner (Obverse), Frank Gasparro (Reverse)
Diameter: .75 inch (19 mm); plain edge
Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
-- 1959-1964 - Philadelphia: no mint mark; Denver (D) on obverse below the date
-- 1965-1967 - no mint marks
-- 1968-1980 - Philadelphia: no mint mark; Denver (D) or San Francisco (S) on obverse below the date
-- 1981-ongoing - Philadelphia (P), Denver (D), or San Francisco (S) on obverse below the date
The following table summarizes the major (intentional) varities of the Lincoln Memorial cent in its composition and weight. The Type numbers are arbitrarily assigned my me: they do not reflect any official numbering scheme, and are continued from the earlier 'Wheat Ears Reverse' design. Note that there are numerous "unintentional" varieites (such as large and small dates, doubled dies, etc.) which do not fall into the context of this site.
||1959 to 1961
||95% copper, 5% tin and zinc
||1962 to 1982 (mid-year)
(Includes all '82 proofs)
|95% copper, 5% zinc
||Zinc core (99.2% zinc, 0.8% copper),
plated with pure copper
(overall comp. = 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper)
| Lincoln Cents|
Lincoln Birth Bicentennial Redesign
2009 marked the 200th birthday anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, and the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln one cent coin.  In keeping with the precedent set at the 50th anniversary of the coin (1959), the obverse, or heads side, of the coin retains Victor David Brenner’s likeness of President Lincoln, introduced in 1909, while the reverse image was changed again.
For 2009, there was a series of four reverse side designs, each one commemorating a different aspect of 'Honest Abe's' life.
- The first design with a log cabin commemorates his birth and childhood in Kentucky.
- The second design with him sitting on a log, studying, commemorates his formative years in Indiana.
- The third design with Lincoln dressed in a suit and standing in front of the Illinois statehouse commemorates his professional life in Illinois.
- The fourth design showing the unfinished US Capitol dome commemorates the time of his Presidency in Washington, D.C.
For 2010, the reverse design changed again to a single design featuring the Civil War era Union Shield.  The Union Shield features thirteen vertical stripes joined by a single horizontal bar with the inscription “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, one).  This symbolizes the original thirteen states joined together in a single union.  A scroll appears across the shield with the denomination “One Cent” and “United States of America” appears above the shield.  This final design is intended to be emblematic of President Lincoln’s preservation of the United States as a single and united country.
The size, composition, and mint marks carry froward from the 2008 Lincoln Memorial cent.