Lincoln Cents (Overview)

The Lincoln cent (or sometimes called Lincoln penny) is a one-cent coin that has been struck by the United States Mint since 1909. The obverse or heads side was designed by Victor David Brenner, as was the original reverse. The coin has seen several reverse, or tails, designs and now bears one by Lyndall Bass depicting a Union shield. All coins struck by the United States government with a value of 1/100 of a dollar are called cents because the United States has always minted coins using decimals. The penny nickname is a carryover from the coins struck in England, which went to decimals for coins in 1971.

Wheat cent (1909–1958)
Cents with and without Brenner's initials were struck at both Philadelphia and San Francisco in 1909. Coins struck at Philadelphia bear no mintmark; those struck at San Francisco were marked with an S. While almost 28 million Philadelphia VDB cents were struck, making them quite common, the 1909-S with Brenner's initials (commonly called the 1909-S VDB) is the rarest Lincoln cent by date and mintmark, with only 484,000 released for circulation. In 1911, the Denver Mint began striking cents with the mintmark D, and in most years in the following decades, all three mints struck cents. In 1916, Barber modified the design, causing Lincoln's cheek and coat to appear less wrinkled. This modification was done to extend die life.

Lincoln Memorial design (1959–2008)
On Sunday morning, December 21, 1958, President Eisenhower's press secretary, James Hagerty, issued a press release announcing that a new reverse design for the cent would begin production on January 2, 1959. The new design, by Frank Gasparro, had been developed by the Treasury in consultation with the Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission. Approved by the President and by Secretary of the Treasury Robert B. Anderson, the new design featured the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The redesign came as a complete surprise, as word of the proposal had not been leaked. The coin was officially released on February 12, 1959, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, although some pieces entered circulation early.

Lincoln Bicentennial cents (2009)
The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 required that the cent's reverse be redesigned for 2009, and that four different designs for the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial be issued. The coins were to be emblematic of Lincoln's early life in Kentucky and in Indiana, of his professional life in Illinois, and of his presidency. Unveiled September 22, 2008, at a ceremony held at the Lincoln Memorial, these designs were:

Birth and early childhood in Kentucky: this design features a log cabin. It was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Jim Licaretz. This penny was released into circulation on Lincoln's 200th birthday, February 12, 2009, at a special ceremony at LaRue County High School in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln's birthplace.

Formative years in Indiana: this design features a young Lincoln reading while taking a break from rail splitting. It was designed and sculpted by Charles Vickers, and released on May 14, 2009.

Professional life in Illinois: this design features Lincoln as a young lawyer, standing before the Springfield Illinois State Capitol. It was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Don Everhart. It was made available on August 13, 2009.

Presidency in Washington, D.C.: this design features the half completed Capitol dome. It was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Joseph Menna. This fourth cent was released to the public on November 12, 2009.

The law also required that collector's sets, in the same alloy used in 1909, be sold to the public.

Union shield reverse "Shield cent" (introduced 2010)
The Presidential $1 Coin Act required that the cent, beginning in 2010, "shall bear an image emblematic of President Lincoln's preservation of the United States of America as a single and united country".[80] On April 16, 2009, the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) met and recommended a design that showed 13 wheat sheaves bound together with a ring symbolizing American unity as one nation.[81] Subsequently, this design was withdrawn because it was similar to coins issued in Germany in the 1920s.[82] The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) also met and recommended a design showing a Union shield with ONE CENTsuperimposed in a scroll; E pluribus unum was also depicted in the upper portion of the shield.[82]

In June 2009 the CFA met again and this time selected a design featuring a modern rendition of the American flag. As a part of the release ceremony for the last of the 2009 cents on November 12, 2009, the design for the 2010 cent was announced. The design chosen was the Union shield, that was selected by the CCAC. According to the Mint, the 13 stripes on the shield "represent the states joined in one compact union to support the Federal government, represented by the horizontal bar above." The new reverse was designed by artist Lyndall Bass and sculpted by US Mint sculptor-engraver Joseph Menna. In January 2010, the coins were released early in Puerto Rico; this was prompted by a shortage of cents on the island. The Mint re-engraved the obverse, returning to the original 1909 galvano in preparing new dies. However, the Mint did not return to striking the pieces in the higher relief of 1909—the piece has long been struck in a much lower relief than the original pieces. Coins of the new design were officially released at a ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois, on February 11, 2010.

In early January 2017, cents bearing the current date and with the mint mark P appeared in circulation. The Mint had made no announcement of such coins, but confirmed their authenticity, stating that the coins had the mint mark to honor the Mint's 225th anniversary. All 2017 cents struck at Philadelphia are to receive the mint mark, but cents struck in 2018 and after will again omit it.

Source: Wikipedia