In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the history behind the inspiration for the Lincoln Small Cent. Keep in mind that many of the portraits, paintings, photographs, and sculptures used when designing coins are not 100% what the coin looks like. So, take a few to explore this history behind the coins!
Lincoln Small Cent Coins | William Willard’s Abraham Lincoln
In 1809, The United States of America’s greatest President was born. Through his years he struggled up the ranks to become the 16th President of the United States. So, when the Mint ordered a new small cent, it only made sense (or should I say cents) to put Abraham Lincoln on the obverse. Not only was he being honored with this coin, but it was also released on the 100th anniversary of his birth. The painting used for the engraving was done by William Willard and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. This coin is still in use, although the reverse designs have changed multiple times throughout the century. At first, the reverse design features what was known as “wheat ears” to either side of the coin with text in the center. In 1959 that design was changed to show the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse. In 2009, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the President’s birth, the design was changed four times during the year to reflect four different stages of his life. Finally, in 2010, the reverse was changed to a shield and has stayed that way since. It is clear that the cent has become a famous staple of the United States coinage, perhaps because of the iconic figure the it represents. The illustration on the obverse depicts and exact reproduction of the famous Willard bust painting in the Smithsonian.
Lincoln Memorial Coins | The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial has long stood as a symbol in the United States. Inside the monument is a statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln. The Memorial has graced the reverse of the United States cent from 1959 until 2008. However, in 2009, the United States Mint changed the reverse design to reflect Lincoln’s life and the stages he grew through.
Lincoln Birthplace Coins | Abraham Lincoln’s First Home
Abraham Lincoln, the United State’s 16th President, was born in rural central Kentucky. The Lincoln’s property was very rough and developed a young Lincoln’s character. The property has a sinkhole that was used to gather water, and a very rustic log cabin. Nowadays, there is the “Original” Lincoln Memorial on the property to commemorate the important person born at that place. On the reverse of the 2009 Cent is the house that the Lincoln family lived in during Abraham’s childhood.
Lincoln Railsplitter Coins | Jean Leon Gerome Ferris’ Railsplitter
One of young Abraham Lincoln’s favorite pastimes was splitting wood and reading. In 1909, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris painted The Railsplitter, which depicted the young man chopping wood. This painting was used to draw inspiration for the newest 2009 reverse of the Lincoln small cent. The coin shows a slightly different illustration of Lincoln sitting on the log while reading a book.