How the Presidents Made It As Coin Faces: Names to Know For Coin Collecting
By Mark Etinger
If you want to know about your coins part of learning involves the things that important people did to get onto the faces of coins as well as understanding how they got there.
1. Washington: It is notable that our first president was not on our quarter until 1931. A fine general in the French and Indian War, Washington was the obvious choice to command the Revolutionary Army. The people wanted to elect him king before he was made president, but he was wise like Cincinnatus before him, and rejected their pleas. He only served two terms before retiring to his estate.
2. Lincoln: Arguably the greatest President, Abraham Lincoln has been on the penny since 1909. Teddy Roosevelt considered himself to be Lincoln’s political heir and loved the Republican president for his determination to keep the Union intact. Thus, Lincoln was chosen to be depicted by a young man named him Victor David Brenner, whose initials still appear under Lincoln’s shoulder. He was the first non-mythical figure to be depicted on U.S. coinage. The cent was minted just in time to celebrate the centennial of Lincoln’s birthday.
3. FDR: After President Franklin Roosevelt died in 1946, Virginia Congressman Ralph H. Doughton introduced legislation to have his head replace the Mercury dime. The dime was chosen because of Roosevelt’s efforts to found the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, also known as the March of Dimes. FDR also instated numerous programs to benefit Americans during the Great Depression
4. Jefferson: Since 1938, Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence, has been the face of the nickel. Today the frontward image of Jefferson gazes at us, and his Monticello estate remains on the obverse. Before him was the buffalo nickel with an Indian head.
5. JFK: Ever since 1964, John F. Kennedy’s youthful profile has graced the half dollar. The half dollar contained silver from 1965 to ’70 and was the only circulation coin containing a precious metal. So much hoarding occurred that by the early ’70s the half dollar wasn’t really used anymore. The quarter became the prominent coin of stocking change drawers and has remained so. JFK was the youngest ever president elected to office, and is the first Irish American and only Catholic to have been elected. He helped save the world from nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis and he also helped the U.S. win the space race.
These five presidents are the faces of the five most used coins in our currency. Now you know a little bit about them and how they made it onto their coin.
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USA UNITED STATES INDIAN HEAD ONE 1 CENT COIN 1863