History of the Lincoln Penny

President Theodore Roosevelt hated US currency and coins.  Actually he hated what he considered to be the lack of artistic merit of the designs on the currency and coins.  As part of his overhaul of the currency, the Lincoln penny was born.  In putting Lincoln on the penny TR was breaking with a long-standing tradition that no person appear on regularly circulating US coins but rather idealized personifications of  concepts such as liberty.  The new pennies were issued on August 2, 1909, the centennial year of Lincoln’s birth.

The pennies had a wheat back from 1908-1958.  Due to wartime metal shortages, the Treasury in 1943 issued zinc coated steel pennies which proved unpopular with the public due to their tendency to corrode rapidly when wet.  The Treasury quickly retreated and went with pennies containing 95% copper and 5% zinc.

The back of the Lincoln coin was changed to a representation of the Lincoln Memorial in 1959.  During the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, four scenes from the life of Lincoln were depicted on the back of the penny.  Since 2010 the back of the penny has borne a shield with the motto E Pluribus Unum, a fitting tribute to the man who preserved our Union.

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on History of the Lincoln Penny  
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