Over my last few entries, I have been covering the various components of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 that President George W. Bush signed last Thursday. Title I creates the Presidential $1 circulating commemorative coin that will honor each past, deceased president, four per year, until all have been honored. As part of Title I, there will be a corresponding First Spouse gold bullion coin and a bronze counterpart. Title II creates a $50 gold bullion coin using the original (Type 1) design of the Buffalo Nickel created by James Earle Fraser. Today’s entry will discuss Title III, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial 1-Cent Coin Redesign.
In commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the United State’s 16th President, congress authorizes the minting of 1-cent coins during the year 2009, where the obverse uses the likeness of Lincoln as designed by Victor David Brenner in 1909 and the reverse to have four different designs to represent different aspects of Lincoln’s life. With 2008 being the end of the 50-State Quarter Program (unless extended for the District of Columbia and territories), the 2009 Lincoln Cent can help perpetuate the interest in collecting creating a new, one-year collectibles.
During the last 20 years, the Mint has lowered the relief of the coins in an attempt to make the dies last longer and save money. As a result, there have been design decisions that many feel has detracted from the beauty of the coins. For example, the likeness of George Washington on our current quarters seems to have “spaghetti hair” in an attempt to make up for the lower relief. To answer the critics, this law requires “that the original Victor David Brenner design for the 1-cent coin was a dramatic departure from previous American coinage that should be reproduced, using the original form and relief of the likeness of Abraham Lincoln, on the 1-cent coins issued in 2009.” (emphasis added) A much needed change to preserve the beauty of Brenner’s original design.
An interesting provision of the law requires the Mint to issue the coins using the same metallic content as when the first Lincoln Cent was issued in 1909. The 1909 Lincoln Cents weighed 3.11 grams and was 95-percent copper and 5-percent zinc and tin. Since 1982, the coins were changed to a copper-plated zinc coin of 99.2-percent zinc and 0.8-percent copper plating. These coins weigh 2.5 grams. Using more copper and the higher relief may make the coins more expensive to manufacture than the 1-cent face value. The Mint will probably make up the loss in seigniorage with the collectibles it will generate during the year.
I am looking forward to the new collectibles and hope that they are as beautiful as the Westward Journey Nickels were in 2005!