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