June 3, 2008 by Barry Cauchon

With the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth in 2009, many people may not realize that the Lincoln Penny will be 100 years old as well. A new design (in reality, four different designs) for the Lincoln Penny will be issued in 2009 by the United States Mint. According to their website:

“In 2009, the United States Mint will mint and issue four different one-cent coins in recognition of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the production of the Lincoln cent. While the obverse will continue to bear the likeness of President Lincoln currently on the penny, the reverse will change to bear four different designs, each representing a different aspect of the life of Abraham Lincoln.

The themes for the reverse designs represent the four major aspects of Abraham Lincoln’s life, as outlined in Public Law 109-145.

  • Lincoln‘s Birth in Kentucky (1809-1816)
  • Formative Years in Indiana (1816-1830)
  • Professional Life in Illinois (1830-1861)
  • Presidency in Washington, DC (1861-1865)

A new design will be issued approximately every 3 months in 2009. The designs for the coins will be chosen by the Secretary of the Treasury after consultation with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts, and after review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.”

The Lincoln Penny first debuted in 1909, replacing the very popular Indian Head penny used since 1859. This change in design was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The obverse (face) side of the coin featured a profile of Lincoln facing to the right.  It was based on a photograph taken by Anthony Berger at Mathew Brady’s Washington photographic studio on February 09, 1864.

This image was chosen by Victor David Brenner, the designer of the coin and then approved by President Theodore Roosevelt for production. The Lincoln Penny was the first American coin to feature a US President.

The reverse (back) side of the coin featured two wheat ears. Collectors of these coins call them Wheats or Wheaties. This design lasted for 50 years until the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday, when in 1959, the wheat ears were replaced by the current design of the Lincoln Memorial.


  • Indian Head Penny 1859 to 1908 – 50 years
  • Lincoln Wheat Penny 1909 to 1958 – 50 years
  • Lincoln Memorial Penny 1959 to 2008 – 50 years
  • Lincoln 200th Anniversary coins – issue to start in 2009

For more info on the penny, see the following link




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16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice summary. Another interesting aspect of the 2009 Lincoln Cents is that collector versions will be minted in the original 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc composition.

    Since 1982, pennies have been minted in 97.5% zinc.

  2. I can’t wait untill the 2009 penny comes out, it will be a redesigned coin. I can’t wait to buy a box load of em’..

    Robert Redstone

  3. Thanks for your comment Robert. Yes, the new coin(s) will be cool. You may not know that the penny will actually have four reverse designs showing Lincoln in four different stages of his life. It’s cool stuff for sure. Scan the boxes and send us a picture of them when you get them.
    Thanks again.

  4. I had a question. How many rolls come in a box from the mint?

    • Hi Gene: Regrettably I do not know how many rolls come in a box from the mint. Perhaps the website for the US Mint can assist.
      I hope this was helpful.

  5. why did they change the look of the much was the CHANGE for the new look?and why?

    • Hi Sammie: Those are all good questions but I can only answer one of them. I do not know what the cost was for the change but in the whole scheme of things, it would not have been much. The mint produces new coins in all denominations all the time. So the costs are just part of the process.
      The reason they changed the look was to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. As I mention in my article, they’ve changed design of the penny also on the 150th, 100th and 50th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. Anniversaries are often celebrated in commemorative ways. The penny changes are the way we celebrate Mr. Lincoln’s. So be looking for another change in the penny designs in 2059 when we celebrate his 250th anniversary. LOL.
      Thanks for your question.

  6. what types of shell casings were used in the minting of the lincoln wheat cent from 1944-1946

    • Hi Franklin: Thank you for your comment. Regrettably, I am not an expert on US minted coin production, so I turned to the US Treasury’s website to see what they say. According to their site, the following is noted. “On January 1, 1944, the Mint was able to adopt a modified alloy, the supply being derived from expended shell casing which when melted furnished a composition similar to the original, but with a faint trace of tin. The original weight of 48 grains was also restored”.
      I will put your question to my readership and hopefully someone can give you an answer.
      Of course, if I find it first, be assured that you will see my response here immediately.

  7. Hi,

    My name is Chelsea. I have just graduated high school and have a part time job at a local burger joint. My boss handed me one of the new pennies. I noticed the back of the penny had changed. I did not realize the penny had celebrated one hundred years, but why is the new cover not like the ones that were planned for it?

    • Hi Chelsea. Thanks for writing. I’m not exactly sure which change you are referring to but I hope this helps. For the 2009 coin, the US Mint issued four different designs on the reverse side (tails) to celebrate Lincoln’s 200th birthday. The four celebrate various aspects of Lincoln’s life. This special set of pennies was a one-time thing. Now, for 2010, a new design for the reverse has been issued. If you go to the US Mint site at this link, please let me know if this is the design you have in your hand. I don’t know how long it will be used, but if tradition dictates, this design should be around another fifty years until 2059 when the 250th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth rolls around. Let’s hope the penny is still being used at that time. Here is the link.

  8. Is it true that the new designs will be worth 15 times face value in five years.

    • Hi Kiesha. Thanks for writing. It is highly unlikely that the value of these pennies will increase by that much. WIth coin collecting, the value of coins are determined by their condition and their rarity. These pennies were minted in large quantities and so I’m guessing it will take many more years before they are worth 15 cents each. However, it is not out of the question. Anything is possible.

  9. […] There’s a blog post about this penny, which apparently was released in 2009 to celebrate the penny’s one […]

  10. […] source: […]

  11. So even the circulated pennies are worth .15 each??

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