One Cent Coins

The United States one-cent coin is a unit of currency equaling one-hundredth of a United States dollar. Its obverse has featured the profile of President Abraham Lincoln since 1909, the centennial of his birth.

Since 1959 (the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's birth), the reverse has featured the Lincoln Memorial. The coin is .75 inches in diameter and .061 inches in thickness.

The one-cent coin is often called a "penny", but the U.S. Mint's official name for this coin is "cent".

List of designs

  • Large Cents
    • Flowing Hair Chain (1793)
    • Flowing Hair Wreath (1793)
    • Liberty Cap (1793–1796)
    • Draped Bust (1796–1807)
    • Classic Head (1808–1814)
    • Coronet (1816–1839)
    • Braided Hair (1839–1857)
  • Small Cents
    • Flying Eagle (1856–1858)
    • Indian Head (1859–1909)
    • Lincoln Wheat Ears (1909–1958)
    • Lincoln Memorial (1959–2008)
    • Lincoln Bicentennial 4 reverse designs (2009)
    • Lincoln Union Shield (2010–)

On April 21, 1787, the Continental Congress of the United States authorized a design for an official penny, later referred to as the Fugio cent because of its image of the sun shining down on a sundial with the caption, "Fugio". This coin was reportedly designed by Benjamin Franklin, and as a reminder to its holders, he put at its bottom the message, "Mind Your Business". The image and the words form a rebus meaning that time flies, do your work. This design had also been used on the "Continental dollar" in February of 1776.

The first Small Cents, the Flying Eagle issue dated 1856, was actually made at Snowden’s direction without congressional approval. The Flying Eagle cent of 1856 is considered to be a pattern. The general issue coins of the same design are those of 1857 and 1858. The Christian Gobrecht design for the Flying Eagle appearing on the reverse of the Gobrecht dollar was used as the obverse for the cent. The reverse wreath by James B. Longacre was borrowed from the gold dollar and $3 coins already in circulation.

Lincoln Head (1909-1958)

1943 steel cent

The Lincoln Wheat Ears Cent (sometimes referred to as a Wheat penny, a Wheatback, a Wheat Head, or a Wheatie) was a United States one-cent coin produced from 1909 to 1958.

Both the obverse and the reverse were designed by Victor David Brenner, a New York sculptor. Brenner's initials, V.D.B., were included on the reverse of the coin below the two stylized wheat stalks on a limited number of the coins until public controversy forced their removal. Brenner's initials were restored to the obverse, below Lincoln's shoulder, in 1918.

The 1943 steel cent was a variety of the U.S. one-cent coin which was struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper.

The steel cent is the only regular-issue United States coin that can be picked up with a magnet. The steel cent is also the only coin issued by the United States for circulation that does not contain any copper.

The Lincoln cent is the current one cent coin used in the United States. Its obverse, featuring a bust of Abraham Lincoln (to commemorate his centennial), has been in continuous usage, while its reverse was changed in 1959 to its current design which includes the Lincoln Memorial (to commemorate Lincoln's sesquicentennial).

The 2009 Lincoln Pennies

The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 required that the cent's reverse be redesigned in 2009. This resulted in the mintage of four different coins showing scenes from Abraham Lincoln's life in honor of the bicentennial of his birth.

These four designs, unveiled September 22, 2008 at a ceremony held at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., are:

  • Birth and early childhood in Kentucky
  • Formative years in Indiana
  • Professional life in Illinois
  • Presidency in Washington, D.C.

The current Lincoln cent's reverse (tails side) design is emblematic of President Abraham Lincoln's preservation of the United States as a single and united country, as required by Title III of Public Law 109-145, the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005. While the obverse (heads) continues to bear the familiar Victor David Brenner likeness of President Lincoln that has appeared on the coin since 1909, the reverse features a union shield with a scroll draped across and the inscription ONE CENT.