Lincoln’s birth in 1809 was first commemorated in U.S. coinage with the issue of the Lincoln cent with the “Wheat Ears” reverse in 1909. That design has continued with various revisions for over 100 years now. In 1959 the mint marked the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln cent with a design change to the reverse, swapping the wheat ears for Frank Gasparro’s rendering of the Lincoln Memorial. The 200th anniversary of his birth was celebrated in two ways, first with a series of new reverses for the ubiquitous cent and then with a Commemorative Silver dollar. Public Law 109-285, the "Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Coin Act," signed into law on September 27, 2006, requires the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue $1 silver coins in commemoration of the Bicentennial of Lincolns birth.
The Lincoln commemorative dollar, like most of the recent commemorative dollars is struck in the 90% silver alloy that has traditionally been used for U.S. coins. The Dollars were struck in two different finishes, Proof and Uncirculated, and both werestruck at the Philadelphia mint. The Obverse (head) design leaves the viewer feeling that he is looking up at Mr. Lincoln from below. The design shows a three quarters view of Mr. Lincoln from the collar up. The inscriptions “In God We Trust” and “Liberty” run around the left & right sides of the rim respectively, with the date to the right of Mr. Lincolns chin and the mintmark directly below. The design was developed by United States Mint, Artistic Infusion Program, Master Designer Justin Kunz (initial to the left of the collar) and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart (initials to the right of the color)
The reverse design includes an excerpt from the Gettysburg address:
"…we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Inside a laurel wreath that is open at the top. “United States of America” arcs across the top of the coin, while the Motto “E Pluribus Unum” and the denomination “One Dollar” are incused on a ribbon that curves along the bottom edge. The center of the Ribbon includes a Facsimile signature of “A. Lincoln”. The reverse was designed and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill, and her initial are to the right of the signature on the ribbon
Surcharges from sales of the Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar are authorized to be paid to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to further its work in planning the celebration of Lincoln's bicentennial and the continued study of his life.
General Market Notes
The lincoln Dollar sold out in both finishes well before the end of 2009. The last 50,000 uncirculated pieces were reserved for a special set that included the dollar and one of each of the 2009 cents with the commemorative reverses struck in the origina 95% copper bronze alloy. The release of these sets sparked an a overwhelming run on the Mints Web site resulting in delays of over an hour in some cases. The entire run of 50,000 sets sold out in less than 24 hours.