Coin History – The 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial Cents

The 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial Cent is one of the unique and early one-offs that the United States Mint tried. That year, four unique reverses (the “tails” side of the coin) were introduced but even long time collectors may not know the full story behind the coins.

The obvious answer to the question of why the Mint produced these four reverses is to celebrate the life of the 16th President of the United States. 2009 was the bicentennial of his birth as he was born on February 12, 1809. Equally, it was the century celebration of the Lincoln Cent having been in circulation as US coinage. That happened in 1909. To that end, the Mint decided to issue unique-for-2009 Lincoln Bicentennial Cents. The Obverse (the “heads” side of the coin) would keep the same profile portrait of Lincoln that the coin has had since its introduction in 1909. The Reverse would have four unique designed celebrating key life moments in Lincoln’s life.

The first of these unique Reverses was “Birth and Early Childhood”. It was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Jim Licaretz. It depicts a small log cabin similar in look and design to the one Lincoln was born in Kentucky.

2009 Lincoln Birth and Early Childhood
2009 Lincoln Birth and Early Childhood

The second in the series was the “Formative Years” Reverse. Designed and sculpted by Charles Vickers, this Reverse depicts Lincoln reading a book as he takes a break from the work of rail splitting.

2009 Lincoln Formative Years
2009 Lincoln Formative Years

The third Reverse was the “Professional Life” Reverse which depicts Lincoln standing in front of the state capitol of Illinois. It was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Don Everhart. The idea behind this Reverse is to show Lincoln’s pre-presidential career.

2009 Lincoln Professional Life
2009 Lincoln Professional Life

The fourth and final Reverse is the “Presidency” Reverse. Designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Joseph Menna, it depicts a partially completed United States capitol building. As you can see in the Reverse, the dome of the capitol is under construction, which it was during the time of his presidency.

2009 Lincoln Presidency
2009 Lincoln Presidency

Composition of the 2009 Lincoln Cent was the same as it had been since 1982 which was a core of 99.2% zinc, .8% copper, with a plating of pure copper. In addition, there were also satin finish variants made available that had the original 1909 composition of 95% copper with 5% tin and zinc.

The good news for collectors is that all four of these designs are readily available in Mint State at low costs. On average, the regular production Cents are $5-10 in cost for non-certified raw coins in Mint State 65 and higher. The copper variants are a little more at $10-20 for non-certified raw coins in the same grading. You can easily find them from your local coin shop or online. You can also find the coins in rolls, in Mint Sets, and in Proof Sets.

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