The Lincoln cent is perhaps one of the most stable and constant coins in the United States. It has been around for decades, and the Lincoln penny is often the first thing that people think of when they think of U.S. coins. The Lincoln penny first went into production in the year 1909. It is hard to say how many Lincoln pennies have been made since 1909, but one can be sure that well over fourteen-billion such coins have been struck according to Red Book. That’s just for the business strike of the coins. There have also been tens of millions of proof coins and brilliant uncirculated coins made for the Lincoln penny too. This coin has been an iconic heirloom one could say of American history, showing not only the constancy and the resilience of the United States, but also showing one of the most famous U.S. presidents, Mr. Abraham Lincoln.
The Lincoln penny is a favorite for American coin collectors. The coin is quite popular and comes in many different series, mintages, styles, conditions, and gradations. Listed below is just a brief description of some of the different series of the Lincoln penny.
From 1909 to 1958, the Lincoln penny appears as the classic, “Wheat Cent”. Wheat cents and wheat pennies are quite popular and appreciated in the coin collecting area, and have been for some time. Wheat cents are pretty easy to get a hold of, and they display a history and a feel to them that is quite memorable. Being able to hold something in one’s hand that is over a hundred years old yet is man-made is something special, and the coins are wanted for that reason and many others.
As a note for the Lincoln cents, there were a few that bring about a particularly large amount of interest from the coin collecting community. One in particular was the 1955 “Double Die”. Direct from an article describing this coin on coinsite:
“In 1955, one of the working obverse dies at the Philadelphia Mint was misaligned on the second blow from the working hub, thus resulting in a doubled image. Due to the manner in which this hubbing was carried out, it most noticeably affected the date and inscriptions, with very little doubling (albeit noticeable loss of detail) visible on the bust of Lincoln. These doubled features were visible on all of the coins struck from this die. It is estimated that 40,000 of these coins were minted, all during one night shift at the Philadelphia Mint. Roughly 20,000-24,000 of the pennies were introduced into circulation after the minting error.”
The next series of the Lincoln cent was the Lincoln Memorial series. This series ran from 1959 to 2008. This is the cent that most of us are most familiar with, and it shows the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side of the coin, and the bust of Lincoln on the obverse side.
The next series, and the one that is currently being minted, is the Union Shield or the, “Shield Cent”. This cent retains President Lincoln on the obverse of the coin, but has the Union Shield of the United States of America on the reverse of the coin. This coin was released in 2010 and is currently being produced today.
There was another special series of the Lincoln cent that was released in 2009. This release actually included four different coins, all showing different time periods of Lincoln’s life. This set was released as a commemoration to President Abraham Lincoln and to commemorate the coin’s one-hundredth year in production.
Lincoln cents, as simple as they are, are still one of the most favored coins in the nation. There are many aspects and traits about them that create wonderment in us, and we appreciate and cherish them. Something about the ever-present, ever lasting stable constant that is the Lincoln penny is appreciated by those of us who collect coins. Hopefully these coins will be around for a very long time, and we will continue to collect them and enjoy them as long as they are.