I was at Costco grabbing a bargain (and quite nutritious) lunch of a hot dog and Coke and noticed that the shiny pennies I received in change looked different. Sure enough, these brand spanking new 2010 pennies had a redesign on the back.
The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 among other things authorized a redesign of the back of the penny in 2010 to reflect Abraham Lincoln's preservation of the U.S. as a single and united country. So the backside of the penny now displays a shield with 13 vertical stripes representing the 13 original states in union. The familiar E PLURIBUS UNUM is retained to indicate "out of many, one."
These new pennies are composed of 2.5% copper and 97.5% zinc, roughly the same composition they have had since 1982. Prior to that they has been 95% copper and 5% tin/zine since 1909. Apparently the pre-1982 95% copper pennies are worth more than 2 cents each due to their copper value. However, don't even think about it...since 2006 there have been laws that criminalize melting pennies/nickels for their content, with fines up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to 5 years!
The Lincoln cent has been around since 1909. I know them well as I collected them as a kid. I remember quite well the rarest of the Lincoln pennies, the 1909 S VDB penny. The first Lincoln pennies had the initials of Victor David Brenner displayed on the bottom of the back side of the coin. The VDB was deemed too prominent and the pennies were re-issued without the initials, making the 1909 S (S is for the San Francisco Mint) VDB pennies in circulation quite rare and valuable.
So getting back to more recent history, I also discovered that in 2009, the U.S. Mint issued for different redesigns of the penny in commemoration of Lincoln's 200th birthday (1809) and 100th anniversary of the Lincoln cent. I was completely oblivious to this and I haven't seen these pennies (maybe due in part to the fact that "only" 2.4 billion of the 2009 produced vs over 5 billion in 2008, 10 billion in 2001, 14 billion in 2000, etc.).
I will be seeking out in my change the following 2009 commemorative redesigns covering 4 major time frames of Abraham Lincoln's life:
- Birth and early childhood in Kentucky (1809-1816)
- Formative years in Indiana (1817-1830)
- Professional life in Illinois (1830-1861)
- Presidency in Washington, DC (1861-1865)
Well folks, this has been my 2 cents, well, perhaps my 5 cents for the day. If you'd like to give me a penny for my thoughts, Contact Me! :>