Description

The Lincoln cent (commonly known as a penny) is a one-cent coin that has been struck by the United States Mint since 1909. The colloquial term penny derives from the British coin of the same name, the pre-decimal version of which had a similar value.

The obverse or heads side was designed by Victor David Brenner. Brenner's initials (VDB), on the reverse at its base, were deemed too prominent once the coins were issued, and were removed within days of the release. The initials were restored, this time smaller, on Lincoln's shoulder, in 1918.

In 1943, with copper urgently needed for combat-related purposes, the Mint made Lincoln cents from zinc-coated steel (Steel War Penny, KM# 132a). The substitute proved unsatisfactory, and from 1944 through 1946 the Mint instead used the brass alloy first tried in 1942; this lacked the small percentage of tin employed before and after the war. The cent returned to its prewar composition in 1946.

The Lincoln cent has been issued longer than any other coin in U.S. history and in far greater numbers than any other coin in the history of the world.

Obverse

Abraham Lincoln (the 16th President of the United States, led the United States through its Civil War, abolished slavery) bust right, date lower right. The lettering LIBERTY and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST.

When the Lincoln one-cent coin made its initial appearance in 1909, it was the first regular coin to bear a portrait. In fact, the first President of the United States George Washington is said to have refused to allow his likeness to be incorporated into any coins. He felt, and most agreed for decades, that a portrait of a real individual was too similar to the practice of using images of royalty on coins used by the monarchal governments of Europe. But public sentiment stemming from the 100th anniversary celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birth proved stronger than the long-standing tradition. The motto In God We Trust appeared for the first time on a coin of this denomination.

The letters VDB stamped on the bottom sleeve of Abraham Lincoln represent the initials of Victor David Brenner, the primary designer of the Wheat cent (1909–1958).

IN GOD WE TRUST
LIBERTY
1944
D
VDB

Reverse

Two sheaves of durum wheat, one on either side, framing the inscriptions ONE CENT, the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM (Latin for "Out of many, one") and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

E·PLURIBUS·UNUM
ONE CENT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Edge
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Characteristics
Material Bronze
Weight 3.11 g
Diameter 19 mm
Thickness 1.4 mm
Shape round
Alignment Coin
Mints
Denver Mint (D)
Philadelphia Mint (P)
San Francisco Mint (S)

Related coins

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Copper, 10.89 g, ⌀ 29 mm
Coronet Large Cent / Matron Head

Copper, 10.89 g, ⌀ 28.5 mm
Braided Hair Cent

Bronze, 10.89 g, ⌀ 27.5 mm