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Circulated Lincoln Bicentennial US Small Cents (2009) 



Circulated Lincoln Bicentennial

The Lincoln Bicentennial cents, also known as the Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Program coins, were issued by the United States Mint in 2009 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. This special series of coins also marked the 100th anniversary of the first issuance of the Lincoln cent in 1909, designed by Victor David Brenner. The 2009 program was a notable part of the ongoing tradition of honoring significant American historical figures and events through the nation’s coinage.

Historical Context

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, is revered for his leadership during the American Civil War and his efforts to abolish slavery. His legacy has been celebrated in various forms, including the Lincoln Memorial and the iconic Lincoln cent. The 2009 series aimed to provide a more comprehensive view of Lincoln’s life, capturing distinct phases of his journey from a humble beginning to a historic presidency.

Design and Themes

The 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial cents featured four different reverse designs, each depicting a significant period in Lincoln’s life. These designs were:

  1. Birth and Early Childhood in Kentucky (1809-1816)
    • The first coin depicts a log cabin, representing Lincoln’s birth and early childhood in Kentucky. The design symbolizes Lincoln’s modest beginnings and the formative years that shaped his character.
    • Designer: Richard Masters
    • Engraver: Jim Licaretz
  2. Formative Years in Indiana (1816-1830)
    • The second coin shows a young Lincoln reading while taking a break from working as a rail splitter. This imagery reflects Lincoln’s self-education and his determination to learn and grow despite limited formal schooling.
    • Designer: Charles Vickers
    • Engraver: Charles Vickers
  3. Professional Life in Illinois (1830-1861)
    • The third coin illustrates Lincoln as a young lawyer standing in front of the old state capitol in Springfield, Illinois. This phase of his life highlights his career as a lawyer and politician, which laid the groundwork for his future presidency.
    • Designer: Joel Iskowitz
    • Engraver: Don Everhart
  4. Presidency in Washington, D.C. (1861-1865)
    • The fourth coin features the partially completed dome of the United States Capitol, symbolizing Lincoln’s presidency during the Civil War and his efforts to preserve the Union. The unfinished dome signifies the ongoing challenges the nation faced.
    • Designer: Susan Gamble
    • Engraver: Joseph Menna

Production and Distribution

The Lincoln Bicentennial cents were produced at three mints: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Coins minted in Philadelphia and Denver were intended for general circulation, while the San Francisco coins were struck in proof quality for collectors.

  • Philadelphia Mint: Coins are identified by a “P” mint mark.
  • Denver Mint: Coins are identified by a “D” mint mark.
  • San Francisco Mint: Proof coins are identified by an “S” mint mark.

In addition to regular circulation strikes, the United States Mint produced special collector sets, including uncirculated and proof sets. These sets featured high-quality strikes with sharp details and were packaged to appeal to numismatists and Lincoln enthusiasts.

Numismatic Significance

The Lincoln Bicentennial cents are notable for their historical and educational value. Each design offers insight into different aspects of Lincoln’s life, providing a numismatic narrative of his journey from a log cabin in Kentucky to the White House in Washington, D.C. Collectors value these coins not only for their designs but also for their connection to American history.

The 2009 series also stands out for its artistic quality. The designs were created by renowned artists and engravers, ensuring that each coin would be both a miniature work of art and a lasting tribute to one of America’s greatest presidents.

Public Reception and Collectibility

Upon their release, the Lincoln Bicentennial cents were met with great enthusiasm from the public and collectors alike. The anticipation for the new designs and the historical significance of the coins led to a surge in interest and demand. Many people sought to collect all four designs, often directly from circulation, creating a modern-day treasure hunt.

The coins continue to be popular among collectors, with complete sets being highly sought after. Their collectibility is enhanced by the fact that they represent a finite series within the larger Lincoln cent collection, making them a unique subset for enthusiasts to pursue.


The 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial cents have left a lasting legacy in the world of numismatics. They serve as a reminder of Lincoln’s enduring influence on American history and the continued relevance of his principles of equality, perseverance, and leadership. The coins also highlight the importance of commemorative coin programs in educating the public about significant historical events and figures.

In conclusion, the Lincoln Bicentennial US Small Cents from 2009 are more than just currency; they are a tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s life and legacy. Through their detailed designs and thoughtful themes, these coins offer a rich, educational, and collectible series that continues to captivate the interest of coin collectors and history enthusiasts alike. The program successfully honored Lincoln’s contributions to the nation and ensured that his story would be remembered and celebrated for generations to come.

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