The year was 1959 and it was Abraham Lincoln's 150th birthday bash. What better way to celebrate than to issue a new coin, or at least so the mint thought. The decision was made to continue using the obverse design from the existing Lincoln Wheat Cent designed by Victor David Brenner in 1909 a decision that would make Brenner's design the longest circulating coin design in the history of the United States.
Though many designs were considered for the reverse, such as depiction of the log cabin in which Lincoln was born, it was Gasparro's elegant rendition of the Lincoln Memorial that would immortalize the reverse of the cent and create a new first for a U.S. coin. The depiction of the Lincoln Memorial includes the famous Lincoln sculpture found within the Memorial today thus making it the first U.S.coin to feature a likeness of a President on both the obverse and reverse.
Initially, the Memorial cent had a composition of 95% copper & 5% tin/zinc (referred to as type 1). But as the price of copper rose, making cents was a losing proposition for the Mint. By 1982 the mint had seen enough and to make a profit the composition was changed to 99% zinc and 1% copper (referred to as type2).
Throughout the series, coins were minted at the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco mints. The Denver & San Francisco issues carried the respective obverse mint marks of "D" and "S". By 1979 all U.S. coins would carry a "P" mint mark for Philadelphia but with one exception, the Cent. It remained the only modern coin to carry no marks for Philadelphia issues.
|Mint Mark Locations|
|Obverse & Reverse Designs|
When it comes to varieties for some reason the U.S. mint just couldn't make up its mind so for a couple of years the gave collectors something to look for:
- 1960 Variety 1 - large date
- 1960 Variety 2 - small date
- 1982 Variety 1 - Copper Large Date
- 1982 Variety 2 - Copper Small Date
- 1982-D Variety 3 - Copper Large Date
- 1982 Variety 4 - Zinc Large Date
- 1982 Variety 5 - Zinc Small Date
- 1982-D Variety 6 Zinc Large Date
- 1982-D Variety 7 - Zinc Small Date
General Market Notes
The Memorial cent has been produced in the hundreds of billions so a BU specimen will only be slightly above face value.
For those looking for an investment, there are few choices in the series with the most primarily found in error coins, the most notable being the 1972 Doubled Die. Though recently there has been the 1995 Double Die cent, it has yet to reach the key level of the 1972 Double Die.
Another area of expensive specimens are high grade (MS70) coins. Though these carry a high dollar value it is questionable as to how long they can maintain their value since many collectors do not believe it worth their time or money to submit their coins to third party grading services. Without many submissions, third party graders report low MS70 populations thus creating a demand.