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Cent (United States coin)

Cent (United States coin)

Overview
The United States one-cent
Cent (currency)
In many national currencies, the cent is a monetary unit that equals 1⁄100 of the basic monetary unit. Etymologically, the word cent derives from the Latin word "centum" meaning hundred. Cent also refers to a coin which is worth one cent....

 coin
, commonly known as a penny, is a unit of currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 equaling one one-hundredth of a United States dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

. The cent's symbol is ¢. Its obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 has featured the profile of President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 since 1909, the centennial
Century
A century is one hundred consecutive years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages .-Start and end in the Gregorian Calendar:...

 of his birth. From 1959 (the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's birth) to 2008, the reverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 featured the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

. Four different reverse designs in 2009 honored Lincoln's 200th birthday and a new, permanent reverse - the Union Shield - was introduced in 2010.
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Encyclopedia
The United States one-cent
Cent (currency)
In many national currencies, the cent is a monetary unit that equals 1⁄100 of the basic monetary unit. Etymologically, the word cent derives from the Latin word "centum" meaning hundred. Cent also refers to a coin which is worth one cent....

 coin
, commonly known as a penny, is a unit of currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 equaling one one-hundredth of a United States dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

. The cent's symbol is ¢. Its obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 has featured the profile of President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 since 1909, the centennial
Century
A century is one hundred consecutive years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages .-Start and end in the Gregorian Calendar:...

 of his birth. From 1959 (the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's birth) to 2008, the reverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 featured the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

. Four different reverse designs in 2009 honored Lincoln's 200th birthday and a new, permanent reverse - the Union Shield - was introduced in 2010. The coin is 0.75 inches (19.05 mm) in diameter
Diameter
In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. The diameters are the longest chords of the circle...

 and 0.061 inches (1.55 mm) in thickness.

The U.S. Mint
United States Mint
The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act of 1792, and placed within the Department of State...

's official name for a penny
Penny
A penny is a coin or a type of currency used in several English-speaking countries. It is often the smallest denomination within a currency system.-Etymology:...

 is "cent" and the U.S. Treasury's
United States Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue...

 official name is "one cent piece". The colloquial term "penny" derives from the British coin of the same name
Penny (British pre-decimal coin)
The penny of the Kingdom of Great Britain and later of the United Kingdom, was in circulation from the early 18th century until February 1971, Decimal Day....

; however, the British plural form pence is rarely, if ever, used.

As of 2010, it cost the U.S. Mint 1.79 cents to make a cent because of the cost of materials and production.

History of composition

Years Material
1793–1857 100% copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

1857–1864 88% copper, 12% nickel
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

 (also known as NS-12
Nickel silver
Nickel silver, also known as German silver, Argentann, new silver, nickel brass, albata,, or alpacca, is a copper alloy with nickel and often zinc. The usual formulation is 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. Nickel silver is named for its silvery appearance, but it contains no elemental silver...

)
1864–1942 1946–1962 bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 (95% copper, 5% tin and zinc)
1943 zinc-coated steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 (also known as 1943 steel cent
1943 steel cent
The 1943 steel cent, also known as a steelie, was a variety of the U.S. one-cent coin which was struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper. It was designed by Victor D...

)
1944–1946 brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

 (95% copper, 5% zinc)
1962–1982 brass (95% copper, 5% zinc)
1982–present 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper (core: 99.2% zinc, 0.8% copper; plating: pure copper)


In honor of the Lincoln cent's 100th anniversary special 2009 cents were minted for collectors in the same composition as the 1909 coins.

The isotope composition of early coins spanning the period of 1828 to 1843 cents reflects that of copper from Cornwall
Mining in Cornwall
Mining in Cornwall and Devon began in the early Bronze Age approximately 2,150 BC and ended with the South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall closing in 1998...

 ores from England while coins after 1850 that from the Keweenaw Peninsula
Keweenaw Peninsula
The Keweenaw Peninsula is the northern-most part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It projects into Lake Superior and was the site of the first copper boom in the United States. As of the 2000 census, its population was roughly 43,200...

, Michigan ores, a finding consistent with historical records.

In 1943, at the peak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, zinc-coated steel cents
1943 steel cent
The 1943 steel cent, also known as a steelie, was a variety of the U.S. one-cent coin which was struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper. It was designed by Victor D...

 were made for a short time because of war demands for copper. A few copper cents from 1943 were produced from the 1942 planchet
Planchet
A planchet is a round metal disk that is ready to be struck as a coin. An older word for planchet is flan. They are also referred to as blanks.-History:The preparation of the flan or planchet has varied over the years...

s remaining in the bins. Similarly, some 1944 steel cents have been confirmed. From 1944 through 1946, salvaged ammunition
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

 shells made their way into the minting process, and it was not uncommon to see coins featuring streaks of brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

 or having a considerably darker finish than other issues.

During the early 1970s, the price of copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 rose to a point where the cent contained almost one cent's worth of copper. This led the Mint to test alternative metals, including aluminum and bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

-clad steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

. Aluminum was chosen
1974 aluminum cent
The 1974 aluminium cent was a one-cent coin proposed by the United States Mint in 1973. It was composed of an alloy of aluminium and trace metals, and intended to replace the predominantly copper–zinc cent due to the rising costs of coin production in the traditional bronze alloy. 1,571,167 were...

, and over 1.5 million of these pennies were struck and ready for public release before ultimately being rejected. The proposed aluminum pennies were rejected for two reasons: vending machine owners complained the coins would cause mechanical problems; and pediatricians and pediatric radiologists pointed out that the radiodensity
Radiodensity
Radiodensity refers to the relative inability of electromagnetic radiation, particularly X-rays, to pass through a particular material. Radiolucency indicates greater transparency or "transradiancy" to X-ray photons...

 of the metal inside the respiratory
Respiratory tract
In humans the respiratory tract is the part of the anatomy involved with the process of respiration.The respiratory tract is divided into 3 segments:*Upper respiratory tract: nose and nasal passages, paranasal sinuses, and throat or pharynx...

 and gastrointestinal tract
Gastrointestinal tract
The human gastrointestinal tract refers to the stomach and intestine, and sometimes to all the structures from the mouth to the anus. ....

s was close to that of soft tissue, and the coins would therefore be difficult to detect in X-ray imaging. One aluminum cent was donated to the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

.

The cent's composition was changed in 1982 because the value of the copper in the coin started to rise above one cent. This was mainly caused by inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

. Some 1982 pennies use the 97.5% zinc composition, while others used the 95% copper composition.

One can hear the difference between the bronze and copper cents and the newer, zinc cents by dropping a coin on a solid surface. The predominantly copper coins produce a ringing sound in the 12 kHz
Hertz
The hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....

 range. The zinc coins make a noise that is different. In addition, a full 50-cent roll of pre-1982/3 coins weighs 5.4 oz. compared to a post 1982/83 roll which weighs 4.4 oz.

Mintage figures for the Lincoln cent can be found at Lincoln cent mintage figures.

Designs


The coin has gone through several designs over its two-hundred-year time frame. Until 1857 it was about the size of the current U.S. dollar coins (Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony dollar
The Susan B. Anthony dollar is a United States coin minted from 1979 to 1981, and again in 1999. It depicts women's suffrage campaigner Susan B. Anthony on a dollar coin. It was the first circulating U.S. coin with the portrait of an actual woman rather than an allegorical female figure such as...

 through present dollars).




The following types of cents have been produced:

Large cents:
Large cent (United States coin)
The United States large cent was a coin with a face value of 1/100 of a United States dollar. Its diameter varied between 27mm and 29mm. The first official mintage of the large cent was in 1793, and its production continued until 1857, when it was officially replaced by the modern-size one-cent...

  • Flowing Hair Chain
    Chain cent
    The Chain cent was America's first large cent and the first circulating coin officially produced by the United States Mint. It was struck only during 1793.-Obverse design:...

     (1793)
  • Flowing Hair Wreath
    Wreath cent
    The Wreath cent was an American large cent. It was the second design type, following the Chain cent in 1793. It was produced only during that year.- Obverse design :...

     (1793)
  • Liberty Cap (1793–1796)
  • Draped Bust (1796–1807)
  • Classic Head (1808–1814)
  • Coronet (1816–1839)
  • Braided Hair (1839–1857)

Small cents:
  • Flying Eagle
    Flying Eagle cent
    The Flying Eagle cent is a United States coin that was minted from 1856 to 1858. The coin was designed by James B. Longacre. The Flying Eagle was the first small-sized cent coin minted in the US, replacing the earlier large cent. The obverse of the coin depicts an eagle in flight, a unique subject...

     (1856–1858)
  • Indian Head
    Indian Head cent
    The Indian Head one-cent coin, also known as an Indian Penny , was produced by the United States Mint from 1859 to 1909 at the Philadelphia Mint and in 1908 and 1909 at the San Francisco Mint...

     (1859–1909)
  • Lincoln Wheat (1909–1958)
  • Lincoln Memorial (1959–2008)
  • Lincoln Bicentennial 4 reverse designs (2009)
  • Lincoln Union Shield (2010–)


Throughout its history, the Lincoln cent has featured several typeface
Typeface
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

s for the date, but most of the digits have been old-style numerals
Text figures
Text figures are numerals typeset with varying heights in a fashion that resembles a typical line of running text, hence the name...

, except with the 4 and 8 neither ascending nor descending. The only significant divergence is that the 3 was non-descending (the same size as a 0, 1, or 2) in the early history, before switching to descending for one year in 1934 and then permanently in 1943.

From 1959 until 2008, the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

 was shown on the reverse of the United States cent. In his treatise Theory and Practise of Numismatic Design, Steve Crooks states that because the Lincoln Memorial was shown in sufficient detail to discern the statue of Lincoln on the reverse of cent, Abraham Lincoln was at that time the only person to be depicted on both the obverse and reverse of the same United States coin. In 1999, the New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 state quarter
50 State Quarters
The 50 State Quarters program is the release of a series of circulating commemorative coins by the United States Mint. Between 1999 and 2008, it featured each of the 50 U.S. states on unique designs for the reverse of the quarter....

 was released, which depicts George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 on both sides, crossing the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

 on the reverse side and in profile on the obverse. (The state quarter for South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, released in 2006, also features Washington on both sides: the typical profile on the obverse, and Washington within Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States...

 on the reverse.) Some of the 2009 reverse design series no longer showed Abraham Lincoln, and the 2010 Lincoln Union Shield has removed the president from the coin reverse for the foreseeable future.

An additional design detail that is not readily visible to the naked eye is found on the obverse side of the 1918 onward United States cent. The letters “VDB” stamped on the bottom sleeve of Abraham Lincoln represent the initials of Victor David Brenner
Victor David Brenner
Victor David Brenner born as Viktoras Barnauskas was an Lithuanian-American sculptor, engraver, and medalist known primarily as the designer of the United States Lincoln Cent.-Biography:...

, the primary designer of the Wheat cent.

Lincoln cent



The Lincoln cent is the current one cent coin of the U.S. dollar. It was adopted in 1909, replacing the Indian Head cent
Indian Head cent
The Indian Head one-cent coin, also known as an Indian Penny , was produced by the United States Mint from 1859 to 1909 at the Philadelphia Mint and in 1908 and 1909 at the San Francisco Mint...

. Its obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

, featuring a bust of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 (to commemorate the centennial of his birth.), has been in continuous usage. Its reverse was changed in 1959 from a wheat stalks design to a design which includes the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

 (to commemorate Lincoln's sesquicentennial) and was replaced again in 2009 with four new designs to commemorate Lincoln's bicentennial. There are more one-cent coins produced than any other denomination, which makes the Lincoln cent a familiar item. In its lifespan, this coin has weathered both world wars, one of which temporarily changed its composition as part of the war effort. The obverse is the longest design used for any circulating American design.

Obverse design


When the Lincoln one-cent coin made its initial appearance in 1909, it marked a radical departure from the accepted styling of United States coinage
United States coinage
United States coinage was first minted by the new republic in 1792. New coins have been produced every year since then and they make up a valuable aspect of the United States currency system. Today circulating coins exist in denominations: $0.01, $0.05, $0.10, $0.25, $0.50, and $1.00. Also minted...

, as it was the first regular coin to bear a portrait other than the mythical Liberty
Liberty (goddess)
Goddesses named for and representing the concept Liberty have existed in many cultures, including classical examples dating from the Roman Empire and some national symbols such as the British "Britannia" or the Irish "Kathleen Ni Houlihan"....

, which appeared on most pre-1909 regular coins. (Even the so-called Indian Head of the Indian Head cent
Indian Head cent
The Indian Head one-cent coin, also known as an Indian Penny , was produced by the United States Mint from 1859 to 1909 at the Philadelphia Mint and in 1908 and 1909 at the San Francisco Mint...

 it replaced depicted Liberty as a Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

. The Sacagawea dollar
Sacagawea dollar
The Sacagawea dollar is a United States dollar coin that has been minted every year since 2000. These coins have a copper core clad by manganese brass, giving them a distinctive golden color. The coin features an obverse by Glenna Goodacre. The reverse design has varied, from 2000 to 2008...

 depicts a historical person, and is the first U.S. circulation coin to honor a specific Native person, although there are no known portraits of Sacagawea
Sacagawea
Sacagawea ; was a Lemhi Shoshone woman, who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition, acting as an interpreter and guide, in their exploration of the Western United States...

. The Indian Head nickel
Indian Head nickel
The Buffalo nickel or Indian Head nickel was a copper-nickel five-cent piece struck by the United States Mint from 1913 to 1938. It was designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser....

 depicts an idealized Indian chief rather than a specific person.) Previously, a strong feeling had prevailed against using portraits on coins in the United States, but public sentiment stemming from the 100th anniversary celebration of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's birth proved stronger than the long-standing tradition.

A variety of privately-minted tokens bearing Lincoln's image circulated as one-cent pieces during Lincoln's presidency; legitimate coinage had become scarce during the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. These early tokens undoubtedly influenced the denomination, appearance, size, and composition of Lincoln cents.

Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, the 26th US President, thought American coins were so common and uninspiring that he attempted to get the motto "In God We Trust" removed as offending religion. Roosevelt had the opportunity to pose for a young Lithuanian-born Jew, Victor David Brenner
Victor David Brenner
Victor David Brenner born as Viktoras Barnauskas was an Lithuanian-American sculptor, engraver, and medalist known primarily as the designer of the United States Lincoln Cent.-Biography:...

, who, since arriving nineteen years earlier in the United States had become one of the nation’s premier medalists. Roosevelt had learned of Brenner's talents in a settlement house on New York City's Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

 and was immediately impressed with a bas-relief that Brenner had made of Lincoln, based on a Mathew Brady
Mathew Brady
Mathew B. Brady was one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and his documentation of the American Civil War...

 photograph. Roosevelt, who considered Lincoln the savior of the Union and the greatest Republican President and who also considered himself Lincoln’s political heir, ordered the new Lincoln cent to be based on Brenner's work and that it go just in time to commemorate Lincoln’s 100th birthday in 1909. The likeness of President Lincoln on the obverse of the coin is an adaptation of a plaque Brenner executed several years earlier and which had come to the attention of President Roosevelt in New York.

In addition to the prescribed elements on U.S. coins – LIBERTY and the date – the motto In God We Trust
In God We Trust
"In God We Trust" was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956. It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida. The Legality of this motto has been questioned because of the United States Constitution forbidding the government to make any law respecting the establishment of a...

 appeared for the first time on a coin of this denomination. Of interest also is the fact that the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 passed the Act of March 3, 1865, authorizing the use of this motto on U.S. coins, during Lincoln's tenure in office.

Even though no legislation was required for the new design, approval of the Secretary of the Treasury
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

 was necessary to make the change. Franklin MacVeagh
Franklin MacVeagh
Franklin MacVeagh was an American banker and Treasury Secretary.Born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Yale University in 1858, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1864. He worked as a wholesale grocer and lawyer...

 gave his approval on July 14, 1909, and not quite three weeks later, on August 2, the new coin was released to the public.

In 1918, after the controversy over Brenner's name and initials on the reverse had died down, his initials were placed on the obverse with no further controversy. They are to be found in minute form on the rim of the bust, just under the shoulder of Lincoln.

In 1969, the design was revised in order to make Lincoln look more like Brenner's original sculptures.

Reverse design

Reverses of the
Lincoln cent

Wheat cent (1909–1958)

A study of three potential reverses resulted in the approval of a very simple design bearing two wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

heads in memorial style. Between these, in the center of the coin, are the denomination and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, while curving around the upper border is the national motto, E Pluribus Unum
E pluribus unum
E pluribus unum , Latin for "Out of many, one", is a phrase on the Seal of the United States, along with Annuit cœptis and Novus ordo seclorum, and adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782...

, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "From Many, One."

The original model bore Brenner's name on the reverse, curving along the rim below UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Before the coins were issued, however, the initials "VDB" were substituted because officials at the United States Mint
United States Mint
The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act of 1792, and placed within the Department of State...

 felt the name was too prominent. After the coin was released, many protested that even the initials were conspicuous and detracted from the design. Because the coin was in great demand, and because to make a change would have required halting production, the decision was made to eliminate the initials entirely.

Thus in 1909 the U.S. had six different cents: the 1909 and 1909-S Indian Head cent
Indian Head cent
The Indian Head one-cent coin, also known as an Indian Penny , was produced by the United States Mint from 1859 to 1909 at the Philadelphia Mint and in 1908 and 1909 at the San Francisco Mint...

s, and four Lincoln coins: 1909 VDB, 1909-S VDB, 1909 and 1909-S. In all cases the Philadelphia mintages far exceeded the San Francisco issues. While the smallest mintage is the '09-S Indian, the '09-S VDB is the key Lincoln date, and hence is most valuable. Its mintage of 484,000 is only 1.7% of the plain V.D.B.
Lincoln Memorial cent (1959–2008)

On February 12, 1959, a revised reverse design was introduced as part of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. No formal competition was held. Frank Gasparro
Frank Gasparro
Frank Gasparro was the tenth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, holding this position from February 23, 1965 to January 16, 1981. Before that, he was Assistant Engraver. He designed both sides of the Susan B...

, then Assistant Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint
Philadelphia Mint
The Philadelphia Mint was created from the need to establish a national identity and the needs of commerce in the United States. This led the Founding Fathers of the United States to make an establishment of a continental national mint a main priority after the ratification of the Constitution of...

, prepared the winning entry, selected from a group of 23 models that the engraving staff at the Mint had been asked to present for consideration. Again, only the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury was necessary to make the change because the design had been in use for more than the required 25 years.

The imposing marble Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

 provides the central motif, with the legends E Pluribus Unum and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA completing the design, together with the denomination. The initials "FG" appear on the right, near the shrubbery. In his treatise Theory and Practise of Numismatic Design, Steve Crooks states that because the Lincoln Memorial is shown in sufficient detail to discern the statue of Lincoln on the reverse, Abraham Lincoln was the only person to be depicted on both the obverse and reverse of the same United States coin until the release of the New Jersey state quarter
50 State Quarters
The 50 State Quarters program is the release of a series of circulating commemorative coins by the United States Mint. Between 1999 and 2008, it featured each of the 50 U.S. states on unique designs for the reverse of the quarter....

 in 1999, which depicts George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 crossing the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

 on the reverse.
The 2009 Lincoln cents

The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005
Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005
The Presidential $1 Coin Program is part of an Act of Congress, , which directs the United States Mint to produce $1 coins with engravings of relief portraits of U.S. Presidents on the obverse.-Legislative history:...

 required that the cent's reverse be redesigned in 2009. This resulted in the mintage of four different coins showing scenes from Abraham Lincoln's life in honor of the bicentennial of his birth.

These four designs, unveiled September 22, 2008 at a ceremony held at the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, are:
  • Birth and early childhood in Kentucky
    Kentucky
    The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

    : this design features a log cabin
    Log cabin
    A log cabin is a house built from logs. It is a fairly simple type of log house. A distinction should be drawn between the traditional meanings of "log cabin" and "log house." Historically most "Log cabins" were a simple one- or 1½-story structures, somewhat impermanent, and less finished or less...

     and Lincoln's birth year 1809. It was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Jim Licaretz. This cent was released into circulation on Lincoln's 200th birthday, February 12, 2009, at a special ceremony at LaRue County High School
    LaRue County High School
    LaRue County High School is a public school in Hodgenville, Kentucky....

     in Hodgenville, Kentucky
    Hodgenville, Kentucky
    Hodgenville is a city in and the county seat of LaRue County, Kentucky, United States. It sits along the North Fork of the Nolin River. The population was 2,874 at the 2000 census...

    , Lincoln's birthplace. The mintage was extremely low compared to prior years (see Lincoln cent mintage figures). It has been nicknamed the "Log Cabin Penny".
  • Formative years in Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

    : this design features a young Lincoln reading while taking a break from rail splitting. It was designed and sculpted by Charles Vickers. Nicknamed the "Indiana Penny", it was released on May 14, 2009.
  • Professional life in Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    : this design features a young professional Lincoln standing before the Springfield Illinois State Capitol
    Illinois State Capitol
    The Illinois State Capitol, located in Springfield, Illinois, is the building that houses the executive and legislative branches of the government of the U.S. state of Illinois. The current building is the sixth capitol of the state since its admission as a state of the United States in 1818. The...

    . It was designed by Joel Iskowitz
    Joel Iskowitz
    Joel Iskowitz is an American designer, book illustrator, print artist and stamp, coin and medal designer. From an initial interest in medical illustration, this graphic artist has branched to other fields. He specializes in highly realistic art resulting from extensive research to make his designs...

     and sculpted by Don Everhart
    Don Everhart
    Donald Nelson Everhart II is an American coin and medal engraver-medalist, and sculptor who has worked for the private Franklin Mint, as a freelance designer, and since 2004 has worked for the United States Mint in Philadelphia...

    . Nicknamed the "Illinois Penny", it was released on August 13, 2009.
  • Presidency in Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

    : this design features the half completed Capitol dome
    United States Capitol dome
    The United States Capitol dome is the massive dome situated above the United States Capitol which reaches upwards to in height and in diameter. The dome was designed by Thomas U...

    . It was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Joseph Menna. This fourth cent was released to the public on November 12, 2009. U.S. Mint released collector's sets containing this design in copper prior to the public launch of this design in zinc.


Special 2009 cents struck for sale in sets to collectors had the metallic copper content of cents minted in 1909 (95% copper, 5% tin and zinc). Those struck for circulation retained the normal composition of a zinc core coated with copper.
Union shield cent (2010–present)

The 2005 act that authorized the redesign for the Bicentennial stated that another redesigned reverse for the Lincoln cent will be minted which "shall bear an image emblematic of President Lincoln's preservation of the United States of America as a single and united country". Eighteen designs were proposed for the reverse of the 2010 cent. On April 16, 2009 the Commission of Fine Arts
United States Commission of Fine Arts
The United States Commission of Fine Arts , established in 1910 by an act of Congress, is an advisory agency of the Federal government.The CFA is mandated to review and provide advice on "matters of design and aesthetics", involving federal projects and planning in Washington, D.C...

  (CFA) met and selected a design that showed 13 wheat sheaves bound together with a ring symbolizing American unity as one nation. Later this design was withdrawn because it was similar to coinage issued in Germany in the 1920s. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee was established in 2003 to advise the Secretary of the Treasury on coinage-related issues, replacing the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee ....

 later met and chose a design showing a Union shield with superimposed in a scroll; E Pluribus Unum
E pluribus unum
E pluribus unum , Latin for "Out of many, one", is a phrase on the Seal of the United States, along with Annuit cœptis and Novus ordo seclorum, and adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782...

 was also depicted in the upper portion of the shield. In June 2009 the CFA met again and chose a design featuring a modern rendition of the American flag. As a part of the release ceremony for the last of the 2009 cents on November 12, the design for the 2010 cent was announced. The design chosen was the one that was chosen earlier by the CCAC. According to the Mint, the 13 stripes on the shield "represent the states joined in one compact union to support the Federal government, represented by the horizontal bar above." The Mint also noted that a shield was commonly used in paintings in the Capitol hallways painted by Constantino Brumidi
Constantino Brumidi
Constantino Brumidi was an Greek/Italian-American historical painter, best known and honored for his fresco work in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.-Parentage and early life:...

, an artist in the Capitol active during the Lincoln Presidency. The obverse of the cent was also changed to a modern rendition of Brenner's design. The new Union Shield design replaces the Lincoln memorial in use since 1959. The coin was designed by artist Lyndall Bass
Lyndall Bass
Lyndall Bass is an American realist painter and teacher known for her still lifes, flower paintings and symbolist figure paintings. She lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the designer of the 2010 penny known as the Union Shield Penny.-Biography:Bass was born in North Carolina...

 and sculpted by US Mint sculptor-engraver Joseph Menna
Joseph Menna
Joseph F. Menna is an American sculptor and engraver who currently works for the United States Mint. Menna sculpted the reverse of the 2010 Lincoln Cent.-Biography:...

. In January 2010, the coins were released early in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

; this was caused by a shortage of 2009-dated pennies on the island. The new design was released at a ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

 on February 11, 2010.

Composition


Initially the alloy of the Lincoln cent followed that established for this denomination with the Indian Head
Indian Head cent
The Indian Head one-cent coin, also known as an Indian Penny , was produced by the United States Mint from 1859 to 1909 at the Philadelphia Mint and in 1908 and 1909 at the San Francisco Mint...

 design in 1864, 95% copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 and 5% tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 and zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

. This was changed in 1943.

Production of the war-time cent was provided for in an Act of Congress approved on December 18, 1942, which also set as the expiration date of the authority December 31, 1946. Low-grade carbon steel formed the base of these coins, to which a zinc coating 0.005 inch (0.127 mm) thick was deposited on each side electrolytically as a rust
Rust
Rust is a general term for a series of iron oxides. In colloquial usage, the term is applied to red oxides, formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture...

 preventive. This coating was applied to the steel before the blanks were made, leaving the rims of these coins extremely susceptible to rust. The same size was maintained, but the weight was reduced from the standard 48 gr to 42 gr, by using a lighter alloy. Production commenced on February 27, 1943, and by December 31 of that year, the three Mint facilities had produced 1,093,838,670 of the one-cent coins. The copper released for the war effort was enough to meet the combined needs of two cruiser
Cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

s, two destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s, 1,243 Flying Fortresses, 120 field gun
Field gun
A field gun is an artillery piece. Originally the term referred to smaller guns that could accompany a field army on the march and when in combat could be moved about the battlefield in response to changing circumstances, as to opposed guns installed in a fort, or to siege cannon or mortars which...

s and 120 howitzer
Howitzer
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent...

s, or enough for 1,250,000 shells for large field guns.
Numerous complaints about the gray color of the 1943 cents, especially that they could be mistaken for dimes, led to a change in composition. On January 1, 1944, the Mint was able to adopt a modified alloy, the supply being derived from expended shell casings which, when melted, furnished a composition similar to the original, but with a much smaller trace of tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

. The original weight of 48 gr was also restored. Shell casings were no longer used after 1946 and the original composition was again used.

The composition of the coin was changed again in 1962. Mint officials felt that deletion of the tin content would have no adverse effect on the wearing qualities of the coin, whereas the manufacturing advantages to be gained with the alloy stabilized at 95% copper and 5% zinc would be of much benefit. Congressional authority for this modification is contained in an Act of Congress approved on September 5, 1962.

During the early 1970s, the price of copper rose to a point where the cent almost contained one cent's worth of copper. This led the Mint to test alternate metals, including aluminum and bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

-clad steel. Aluminum was chosen
1974 aluminum cent
The 1974 aluminium cent was a one-cent coin proposed by the United States Mint in 1973. It was composed of an alloy of aluminium and trace metals, and intended to replace the predominantly copper–zinc cent due to the rising costs of coin production in the traditional bronze alloy. 1,571,167 were...

, and in 1973, a total of 1,579,324 such coins were struck (dated 1974) and ready for public release. A few were distributed to members of the US Congress. Subsequently; aluminum was rejected because, among other reasons, it would not show up on X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

s should it be swallowed. About a dozen aluminum cents are believed to still be in the hands of collectors
Coin collecting
Coin collecting is the collecting or trading of coins or other forms of minted legal tender.Coins of interest to collectors often include those that circulated for only a brief time, coins with mint errors and especially beautiful or historically significant pieces. Coin collecting can be...

, although they are now considered illegal to own. One aluminum cent was donated to the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

. Another is in the hands of the family of a deceased U.S. Capitol police
United States Capitol Police
The United States Capitol Police is a federal police force charged with protecting the United States Congress within the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories.-History:...

 officer, known as the Toven Specimen, and was certified as authentic in 2005.

In mid-1982, the coin's composition changed again to copper-plated zinc. The last all-copper cents were produced by the Denver Mint on October 22, 1982. The copper-plated coins are still being produced today. They contain 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper and are minted on blanks produced for the Mint by an outside manufacturer (Jarden Zinc Products
Jarden Zinc Products
Jarden Zinc Products of Greeneville, Tennessee, is an American manufacturer of a variety of basic zinc products, including sheets of zinc used as precursors to other products and coinage blanks , including the copper-coated zinc blanks presently used to mint the United States one-cent piece...

). This coin is identical in size and appearance to, but at 2.5 grams is lighter than, the 3.11 grams of copper cents issued before 1982, but this modification saved the government an estimated $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

25 million in metal costs every year. (Both types were produced that year and all are common.) The zinc core can be readily seen if the copper plating is abraded or otherwise scraped off.

The post-1982 cents are much more susceptible to corrosion and pitting than the bronze cents made prior to 1982, since copper and zinc form a galvanic cell
Galvanic cell
A Galvanic cell, or Voltaic cell, named after Luigi Galvani, or Alessandro Volta respectively, is an electrochemical cell that derives electrical energy from spontaneous redox reaction taking place within the cell...

 in the presence of electrolyte
Electrolyte
In chemistry, an electrolyte is any substance containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. The most typical electrolyte is an ionic solution, but molten electrolytes and solid electrolytes are also possible....

s. Many collectors lament that even perfectly preserved post-1982 cents protected in Mint sets have begun tarnishing, developing bubbles beneath the copper coating's surface, or even corroding.

Matte Proof Lincolns 1909 to 1916


When the Lincoln Cent was introduced in 1909, it was discovered that the coining dies and their curved fields were unable to be polished to proof coining condition by existing Mint equipment. In order to produce Proof coinage for collectors, the US Mint adopted the French technique of the Matte Proof, which was thought to highlight the design, while leaving the details of the coin as the designer intended. This was done by a sandblasting of the dies prior to use. When struck by the high pressure hydraulic press of the Philadelphia Mint Medal Room, the result was a semi-rough surface, a gentle luster and strongly defined wide square rims. These coins were produced in very small numbers, and the dies quickly developed small marks, known as diagnostics. These marks are used today by Third Party Graders and Collectors to authenticate the coin. Sold for mere pennies over face during the years of production, they were not popular with collectors. When new, the coins were wrapped in a tarnish-proof tissue, which over time proved to be anything but. Since many of these coins sat for decades unsold, vivid colors and toning developed. It is not unusual to see vivid blues, greens, lavender, coppery orange, deep reds and purple hues on these coins. Eagerly collected by numismatists today, they are among the most valuable Lincoln cents. Unencapsulated coins are easily identified by wide, square outer rims, quite unlike the rounded edges of business strikes.

Mint errors specific to Lincoln cents


Through mint error
Mint-made errors
Mint-made errors are errors in a coin made by the mint during the minting process. Mint error coins can be the result of deterioration of the minting equipment, accidents or malfunctions during the minting process, or intentional interventions by mint personnel...

s, a number of rare and valuable Lincoln Cents have been produced. Some random errors, such as an off-center strike, slightly increase the value of the coin, and are sought after by niche collectors. However some errors were systemic, and produced a number of coins with exactly the same problem in the same year. These have become recognized varieties that are often extremely valuable and sought after by mainstream collectors.

The first Doubled Die error occurred during the production of the 1909 VDB. Not identified until the 1970s, it shows the RTY in Liberty and the 190 of the date slightly doubled. This coin is extremely rare in high grades.

In 1922, no one-cent coins were produced by the Philadelphia Mint
Philadelphia Mint
The Philadelphia Mint was created from the need to establish a national identity and the needs of commerce in the United States. This led the Founding Fathers of the United States to make an establishment of a continental national mint a main priority after the ratification of the Constitution of...

. However, three pairs of Denver Mint
Denver Mint
The Denver Mint is a branch of the United States Mint that struck its first coins on February 1, 1906. The mint is still operating and producing coins for circulation, as well as mint sets and commemorative coins. Coins produced at the Denver Mint bear a D mint mark...

 worn and overly polished dies then produced the Weak D and No D varieties, making them appear as if they had been produced in Philadelphia. These varieties are known as the 1922 plain cents. Collectors must be wary of removed mint marks.

There are a few 1943 cents that were produced in bronze, as opposed to the steel/zinc composition used that year. There are 10 to 12 known to exist. Likewise, a few 1944 cents were produced in steel/zinc.

In 1955, a die error caused some cents to get struck with an obverse die which showed doubling in all of the obverse devices, producing a prominent doubling of the date, and to a less noticeable degree, the rest of the obverse. This is known as the 1955 doubled die cent
1955 doubled die cent
The 1955 doubled die cent is a die variety that occurred during production of the one cent coin at the United States Mint in 1955. This variety is often mistakenly referred to as an error...

. A similar die error occurred in 1969 on dies used at the San Francisco Mint. While the 1955 doubled die cent is well-known and widely collected, the 1969-S doubled die is far rarer, with an uncirculated specimen selling for as much as $126,500 in a 2008 Heritage
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auction Galleries is the world's largest collectibles auctioneer and the third largest auction house, with over $700 million in annual sales and 600,000 online bidder-members...

 auction. A slightly different mechanism produced 1972, 1983, 1984, and 1995 Doubled die
Doubled die
Doubled die is a term in numismatics used to refer to doubling in the design elements of a coin. Doubled dies can appear as an outline of the design or in extreme cases, having legends and dates appear twice in an overlapping fashion....

 cents. Doubled Dies are known in practically every date in the Lincoln cent series, but most are minor, and less impressive compared to the 1955 and the other Doubled Die varieties mentioned here.

In 1990, 3,055 proof cents were struck at the San Francisco Mint
San Francisco Mint
The San Francisco Mint is a branch of the United States Mint, and was opened in 1854 to serve the gold mines of the California Gold Rush. It quickly outgrew its first building and moved into a new one in 1874. This building, the Old United States Mint, also known affectionately as The Granite Lady,...

 without the "S" mint mark, making them appear as if they had been struck at the Philadelphia Mint. However, as no proof cents were struck in Philadelphia that year, they are easily distinguishable as errors, and highly valuable.

The reverse of some Lincoln cents minted in 1992 at the Philadelphia and Denver mints and some of those minted in 1998 and 1999 at the San Francisco mint feature a smaller-than-normal gap between the first two letters of AMERICA. These coins, known as the Close AM variety are valued at $20,000 and $5,000 for the 1992 specimens in gem uncirculated condition and $3,000 and $1,000 for the San Francisco specimens in gem proof condition.

The reverse of some Lincoln cents minted in 1998, 1999, and 2000 in Philadelphia feature a larger-than-normal gap between the first two letters of AMERICA. These coins, known as the Wide AM variety are valued at $10, $500, and $5, respectively, in gem uncirculated condition.

Toxicity


Zinc, a major component of post-1982 US cents, is toxic in large quantities. Swallowing such a coin, which is 97.5% zinc, can cause damage to the stomach lining because of the high solubility of the zinc ion in the acidic stomach. Coins are the most commonly ingested foreign body in children but generally are allowed to pass spontaneously unless the patient is symptomatic. Zinc toxicity, mostly in the form of the ingestion of US pennies minted after 1982, is commonly fatal in dogs where it causes a severe hemolytic anemia
Hemolytic anemia
Hemolytic anemia is a form of anemia due to hemolysis, the abnormal breakdown of red blood cells , either in the blood vessels or elsewhere in the human body . It has numerous possible causes, ranging from relatively harmless to life-threatening...

. It is also highly toxic in pet parrots
Companion parrot
Companion parrot is a general term used for any parrot kept as a pet that interacts abundantly with its human counterpart. Generally, most species of parrot can make good companions....

 and can often be fatal.

Numismatics and regulations



It has been suggested that the cent should be eliminated as a unit of currency for several reasons including that many Americans do not actually spend them, but rather only receive them in change at stores and proceed to return them to a bank for higher denomination currencies, or cash them in at coin counting kiosks. Most modern vending machines do not accept pennies, further diminishing their utility, and the production cost now exceeds the face value of the coin caused by increasing metal prices. In 2001 and 2006, for example, United States Representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Jim Kolbe
Jim Kolbe
James Thomas "Jim" Kolbe is a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for Arizona's 8th congressional district, serving 11 terms from 1985 to 2007.-Early life:...

 (R) of Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 introduced bills which would have stopped production of pennies (in 2001 the Legal Tender Modernization Act
Legal Tender Modernization Act
The Legal Tender Modernization Act was a bill proposed by United States Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona in 2002. Its main goal was to stop the continual production of pennies. The bill also mentions other provisions including:...

, and in 2006 the Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation (COIN) Act).

As of August 10, 2011, a pre-1982 cent contains $0.0258142 worth of copper, which makes it an attractive target for melting by people wanting to sell the metal for profit. The US Mint, which is a part of the US Department of the Treasury, in anticipation of the business of melting down US pennies and US nickels for profit, implemented new regulations on December 14, 2006 which criminalize the melting of pennies and nickels and place limits on export of the coins. Violators can be punished with a fine of up to $10,000 USD
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 and/or imprisoned for a maximum of five years.

Metal content and manufacturing costs


The US Mint reported that in fiscal year 2010 the cost of producing and shipping one-cent coins was $0.0179, i.e. more than the face value of the coin.

As of August 10, 2011 the metallurgical value of the copper in pre-1982 bronze and brass cents is 258% of their face value. Post-1982 copper plated zinc cents have a metallurgical value of 56% of their face value.

The Secretary of the Treasury currently has authority to alter the percentage of copper and zinc in the one-cent coin if needed due to cost fluctuations.

See also


  • 1943 steel cent
    1943 steel cent
    The 1943 steel cent, also known as a steelie, was a variety of the U.S. one-cent coin which was struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper. It was designed by Victor D...

  • 1955 doubled-die cent
  • 1974 aluminum cent
    1974 aluminum cent
    The 1974 aluminium cent was a one-cent coin proposed by the United States Mint in 1973. It was composed of an alloy of aluminium and trace metals, and intended to replace the predominantly copper–zinc cent due to the rising costs of coin production in the traditional bronze alloy. 1,571,167 were...

  • Efforts to eliminate the penny in the United States
  • Large cent (United States coin)
    Large cent (United States coin)
    The United States large cent was a coin with a face value of 1/100 of a United States dollar. Its diameter varied between 27mm and 29mm. The first official mintage of the large cent was in 1793, and its production continued until 1857, when it was officially replaced by the modern-size one-cent...

  • Legal Tender Modernization Act
    Legal Tender Modernization Act
    The Legal Tender Modernization Act was a bill proposed by United States Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona in 2002. Its main goal was to stop the continual production of pennies. The bill also mentions other provisions including:...

  • Mill (currency)
    Mill (currency)
    The mill or mille is a now-abstract unit of currency used sometimes in accounting. In the United States, it is a notional unit equivalent to of a United States dollar...

  • Take a penny, leave a penny
    Take a penny, leave a penny
    Take a penny, leave a penny refers to a type of tray, dish or cup often found in gas stations, convenience stores, and other small stores in North America, meant for convenience in cash transactions...

  • United States coinage
  • United States Mint coin production
    United States Mint coin production
    * In 1916, both the Mercury and Barber designs were used for the 10¢ coins.* In 1916, both the Standing Liberty and Barber designs were used for the 25¢ coins.* In 1921, both the Peace and Morgan designs were used for the $1 coins....


External links