Lincoln Wheat (1909-1958)

Lincoln cent most endearing, popular U.S. coin The Lincoln cent was introduced to honor the nation’s 16th president on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Both sides of the coin introduced in 1909 were designed by Victor D. Brenner. Coins struck from June to Aug. 5 depict the initials V.D.B. at six o’clock on the reverse. The initials on the reverse were believed to be too conspicuous by some and due to negative newspaper coverage were removed from coins struck later during 1909 by order of the secretary of the Treasury. That action resulted in the 1909 and 1909-S subtypes, both with and without V.D.B. The coins with the initials are scarcer, with the 1909-S Lincoln, V.D.B. cent being a key coin in the series. The initials were restored to the coin in 1918, but were placed on the obverse at the left lower part of the truncation, where they appear on all Lincoln cents after that date. The Lincoln Memorial reverse designed by Frank Gasparro was introduced in 1959 to mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The Lincoln Memorial reverse made the Lincoln cent the first U.S. coin struck for circulation to depict the same person on both the obverse and reverse, since a statue of Lincoln can be seen inside the memorial on the reverse. A number of type coins by design and composition can be collected to complete a type set of Lincoln cents: the 1909 with reverse initials V.D.B.; 1910 to 1917 without initials; 1918 to 1958 Wheat reverse with obverse initials V.D.B.; 1943 (zinc-coated steel); 1944 to 1946 (95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc); 1959 to 1962 Lincoln Memorial reverse (with 95 percent copper, 5 percent zinc and tin composition); 1962 to 1982 (95 percent copper, 5 percent zinc); 1982 to 2008 Lincoln Memorial reverse (99.2 percent zinc, 0.8 percent copper); the four new reverses produced in 2009 honoring the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth and centennial of the coin design produced both in 99.2 percent zinc, 0.8 percent copper and the original 95 percent copper, 5 percent zinc and tin; and the new Union Shield reverse design introduced in 2010 as the permanent replacement for the Lincoln Memorial design. The 1943 issue during World War II is probably one of the best known failures in the U.S. coinage system. The zinc-coated steel cents are magnetic and will not work in most vending machines. The zinc quickly deteriorates in use. At the time the 1943 cent was issued, the public complained the coin was being confused with dimes in use. An almost legendary error from this period is the 1943 copper composition cent. The few genuine examples apparently were made by accident when some copper-alloy planchets used for 1942 cents became mixed with steel planchets. Likewise, there are 1944 zinc-coated steel cent errors. Although the Mint did not use the steel planchets for U.S. coins after 1943, it did use them to strike foreign coins in 1944. Again, steel planchets were mixed with the copper alloy planchets, resulting in the error. Key dates in the series are generally accepted to be the 1909-S V.D.B., 1909-S, 1914-D, 1922-D No D, 1924-D, 1931-S, 1955 Doubled Die, 1969-S Doubled Die and 1972 Doubled Die. The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-145) authorized the United States Mint to issue four different Lincoln cent reverses throughout 2009 to recognize the bicentennial anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the production of the Lincoln cent. Brenner’s likeness of Lincoln continues on the obverse. The reverse designs are emblematic of four periods, or themes, in Lincoln’s life: His birth and early childhood in Kentucky; his formative years in Indiana; his professional life in Illinois; and his presidency in Washington, D.C. Each of the four 2009 reverses include the inscription 1809, the year Lincoln was born. The reverse designs include: Childhood in Kentucky designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Richard Masters and sculptured by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz; Formative Years in Indiana designed and sculptured by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Charles Vickers; Professional Life in Illinois designed by United States Mint AIP Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and sculptured by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart; and Presidency in D.C. designed by United States Mint AIP Master Designer Susan Gamble and sculptured by United States Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. The United States Mint also issued numismatic versions of the four redesigned 2009 Lincoln cent reverses with exactly the same metallic content as the 1909 coin (95 percent copper, 5 percent tin and zinc). They were also struck in Proof and Uncirculated conditions, and were included in the United States Mint’s annual numismatic set offerings. In 2010 the Lincoln cent coin returned to a single reverse, the Union Shield design emblematic of Lincoln’s preservation of the union, designed by Lyndall Bass, an associate designer with the U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. The Union Shield reverse was engraved by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph F. Menna. Victor D. Brenna’s 1909 obverse was digitally scanned from the original model.

Lincoln, Wheat
Date of authorization: Feb. 21, 1857
Dates of issue: 1909-1958
Designer: Victor D. Brenner
Engraver: Charles Barber
Diameter: 19.05 mm/0.75 inch
Weight: 1909-1942, 1944-1958:
3.11 grams/0.10 ounce
1943: 2.69 grams/0.09 ounce;
2.75 grams/0.09 ounce
Metallic content: 1909-1942: 95% copper, 5% zinc and tin
1942: 95% copper, 5% zinc
1943: zinc-coated steel
1944-1946: 95% copper, 5% zinc
1947-1958: 95% copper, 5% zinc and tin
Edge: Plain
Mint mark: Obverse under date

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