Our New Penny: Little-Known Facts About The 2010 Lincoln Shield Cent

2010-lincoln-cent-photo-by-us-mint.jpg In 2010, a new penny will enter circulation.

The Lincoln cent coin, which turns 101 years old, will bear a shield on the reverse — the 3rd long-term reverse design in the series.

In November 2009, the U.S. Mint announced a design change to the Lincoln penny that removes the 50-year-old Lincoln Memorial design and replaces it with the union shield.

The design reflects the unity that President Abraham Lincoln helped reestablish when he helped guide the United States from the division between the North and South that erupted during the Civil War era.

The 2010 Lincoln cent will be released to circulation and in coin sets made by the U.S. Mint.


The Lincoln Shield Cent

The Shield cent is 1 of 18 original concepts United States Mint artists created for the new penny.

The new design symbolizes Abraham Lincoln’s ability to restore the wholeness of our union amid the division and strife of the Civil War.

Several proposed design topics were considered, including:

  • The U.S. Capitol
  • Wheat Stalks
  • Eagles
  • American flag

The design proposals were released to the public in May 2009. On November 12, 2009 (the same day the U.S. Mint released the last of the 4 Lincoln Bicentennial cent designs), the U.S. Mint unveiled the new penny design for 2010 and beyond.

Facts And Trivia About The New Penny

Every coin has some interesting and fun info and trivia behind it. Here are a few things you’ll want to know about our new penny:

  • Lyndall Bass is the designer of the reverse on the new Lincoln cent.
  • Joesph Menna is the sculptor of the new penny.
  • The union shield design on the coin is seen on frescoes throughout the U.S. Capitol Building.
  • The union shield design is highly representative of our nation’s oneness in the decades since the end of the Civil War.
  • There are 13 stripes on the shield.
  • “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is inscribed on a banner across the shield.


History Of The Lincoln Cent

The Lincoln cent has a long history. First minted in 1909, the Lincoln cent originally had a design on the reverse showing 2 wheat stalks. The wheat ears design was minted from 1909 through 1958.

In 1959, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth prompted the U.S. Mint to adopt the Lincoln Memorial reverse design. Designed by Frank Gasparro, the Lincoln Memorial design lasted on the Lincoln cent until 2008.

A coin act in 2005 authorized the U.S. Mint to strike 4 special designs commemorating the bicentennial (200th anniversary) of Lincoln’s birth. The 4 reverse designs minted on the Lincoln cent in 2009 show:

  • Lincoln’s birthplace, a Kentucky log cabin
  • Lincoln’s formative years, when he was a log splitter and veracious reader
  • Lincoln’s professional life in Illinois, where he was a senator
  • Lincoln’s presidency, during which the Civil War took place and ended while Lincoln was president from 1861-1865


Collecting Lincoln Shield Cents

The Lincoln shield cent will begin minting in 2010. While none of these coins have actually been made available as of this printing, it’s widely assumed that the new penny will be available in uncirculated and proof versions in the U.S. Mint’s annual offerings of uncirculated sets and proof sets.

The U.S. Mint’s 2010 product schedule shows both the uncirculated set and proof set will be released around June or July.

Collector interest should be heavy, at least during 2010. So, while the Lincoln shield cent will be released into circulation, it’s likely to be hard-to-find, because many people — collectors and non-collectors alike — will probably be snapping these coins up out of circulation.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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  • tony

    any idea of a public release date for the 2010 penny? thanks

    • Anonymous

      Hi Tony,

      The U.S. Mint has already begun minting them. I’ve read anecdotal reports of people finding them at banks and such, but I have not been able to find any official release date.

      Ordinarily, banks start receiving bags and rolls of coins within the first several weeks of each new year, so I would certainly be on the lookout. If you can’t find any, check with your local bank and see if they will be ordering any 2010 pennies soon.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Susan,

    What you have is 1 of 4 special commemorative Lincoln cents the U.S. Mint is making to honor Lincoln’s 200th birthday. In fact, the man sitting on a log reading a book IS Lincoln as portrayed during his teenage years!

    Lincoln was a log splitter — he also loved reading.

    These special coins were made for about 3 months during the middle of 2009 and will not be made again. They also have been very hard to find because people are pulling these coins out of circulation to collect them. However, tens of millions were made, so they are a common coin overall.

    If you want to find out more about the 2009 Lincoln cents, be sure to check this page out: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/02/2009_lincoln_cent.php

    • Ian

      Hi, I have 2 of the new 2010 Pennies and i was wondering, how many of them have been minted? I’ve heard 12 and 20 but that seems a little bit not true to me so if you could tell me that would be great. :)

      • Anonymous

        Hi, Ian —

        your gut instinct is right on the mark — between 12 and 20 is very far from the case indeed! In fact, by February, the U.S. Mint had already made over 200 million 2010-dated Lincoln cents!

  • Kaldor07

    I have one of these coins an want to sell it how much is it worth

    • Anonymous

      If worn, its worth only face value.

  • Ann

    I’m trying to understand this.  I love history and I’m not arguing that the Lincoln shield doesn’t represent something fabulous.  But I’ve read on more than one occasion that we spend more making the penny than it’s actually worth.  So explain to me how much “cents” it makes to spend money redesigning it.  Really?

    • Anonymous


      You’re right, it does cost more to make the penny than it’s really worth; about 1.6 cents, in fact. However, if we stopped making the penny, automatic inflation would set in on virtually everything, because prices would be rounded up to the nearest nickel.

      The Union shield design in 2010 came after the series of 4 special designs marking the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. Here’s some more info on those 4 special 2009 designs: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/02/2009_lincoln_cent.php

      • Adam Orcutt

        what about the fact that marketers would round down for example $5 becomes $4.99 with cents but with nickels would be $4.95