Lincoln Wheat Cents

in Lincoln Pennies

The 1909 – 1958 Lincoln Wheat Cents started off a century-plus series of small cent coins struck with designs honoring the sixteenth President of the United States – Abraham Lincoln.

When added together with the rest of the Lincoln Cents (sometimes referred to as Lincoln Pennies), which span well into the twenty-first century, these strikes represent the most commonly produced circulating coins of the United States Mint. In fact, over 25.8 billion of these Wheat Cents alone were struck by the US Mint in their fifty years of production making them a still somewhat common find in pocket-change today despite being at least a half a century old.

Both the obverse and reverse design on the Lincoln Wheat Cents were the work of American sculptor, engraver and medalist Victor David Brenner, an immigrant from Lithuania. He came to the United States while still a teenager and became the premier medalist of the United States by the early 1900’s.

His work was known to that of President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt who had overseen a "modernization" of sorts of American coinage and who was looking to honor Abraham Lincoln on the cent coin to celebrate the 1909 centennial of his birth. This was despite the fact that a portrait of an American President had never before been seen on a circulating coin.

Shown on the obverse of the strike is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln by Brenner who adapted it from an earlier plaque design he had completed showing a right-side view of Lincoln. The reverse contains a very simple image of two heads of wheat flanking the inscriptons of "ONE CENT" and "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," also by Brenner.

These two designs remained on the cent coin for 50 years until the reverse was changed to include an image of the Lincoln Memorial instead of the wheatheads. Still, the obverse portrait of Lincoln remained and is still featured today on the smallest circulating strike of the United States.

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