The Lincoln Cent: Enduring Over 100 Years

By Clark Mixon

The Lincoln Cent, aka Wheat Penny, began mintage over 100 years ago in 1909 to honor the 100th birthday of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. The first design was the product of US Mint engraver Victor D. Brenner.

To mark the design as his, Mr. Brenner included his initials V.D.B. engraved on the reverse near the lower edge of the new coin. Due to a great controversy, with many insisting that these initials be removed, there was a very limited amount of these VDB-initial coins minted. These coins were produced by the San Francisco and Philadelphia mints with fewer coming out of the San Francisco mint – (only 484,000).

Today the 1909 S VDB is a very rare coin and coin collectors will pay $1,000+ dollars for those rare “mint-state” coins. The initials VDB were left off the coin until 1918 when they appeared again on the obverse (front) of the coin and they are still there today.

At the 50th anniversary of the initial minting of the Lincoln Cent series, in 1959, the coin changed from the original “wheat ears” on the reverse to an engraving of the Lincoln Memorial. Today it is very rare to find a “wheat penny” in general circulation.

The Lincoln Memorial design remained on the reverse until 2009. To honor the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln’s birthdate, (1809), and the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Lincoln Cent, the reverse design changed again.

In the first quarter of 2009 the reverse depicted a log cabin as the childhood home and Kentucky “Birthplace” of Abraham Lincoln.

Second quarter mintage depicted the “Formative Years” of President Lincoln, with a young Lincoln reading while resting from splitting a log.

The “Professional Years” coin produced in the third quarter reveals a distinguished Lincoln in front of the Illinois capitol building where he served as a State Representative.

The fourth and final cent minted in 2009 is named “Presidential Years” with an image of the 1865 partially completed US Capitol building.

Then in 2010 the reverse changed to a Shield design and this design remains at the writing of this article. On the reverse of all Lincoln Cent coins is the slogan “E Plurbius Unum” (Out of many – one) a true representation of the President credited with the saving of our Union.

The US Mint is ever-changing coin design and production to keep coin collectors engaged and anticipating the new release of the Lincoln Cent, the longest running coin design, over 100 years.

A wonderful family activity that can also be a profitable hobby, coin collecting has endured the centuries. Why not start your Lincoln Cent coin collection now.

The author, Clark Mixon, has been an avid coin collector for over 40 years and has a wealth of knowledge about those rare “key-date” coins you may need for your collection. He, along with his staff, has developed Only Mint Coins [], an online source for all your US Mint coins, past and present issues. If you don’t find the coin you are seeking on our site, call or email and we will be happy to help you locate the coin you are looking to add to your collection.

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