In case you haven’t noticed, if there’s one coin that gets the most attention here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins, it’s the Lincoln cent. And that’s no accident.
Lincoln cents are among the most-popular coins in the world. They belong to the longest-running coin design ever in the United States.
People of every economic level, coin collectors and non-coin collectors alike, simply love the Lincoln penny.
The one-cent coin has officially been with us since 1793, and the first small cent came into mass production in 1857. In 1909, Lincoln first appeared on the penny. And it’s these Lincoln cents that have stolen the hearts of millions of people in this country.
Of course, it takes a special type of coin to win the hearts of the public. In fact, there are few coins that have truly become part of the national fabric like our little (or shall I say mighty) Lincoln cent.
Lincoln Cents Were A Hit From Day One
While some of the greatest things in culture took time to make it big, this wasn’t the case the Lincoln cent.
The Lincoln cent was an instant success ever since it was released way back in 1909.
People lined up for city blocks just to get a couple examples from their local banks.
Lincoln cents were already selling for more than face value in thew weeks immediately after their release. There simply weren’t enough available from banks and the U.S. Mint to satisfy demand!
Collecting Lincoln Cents Took Off In The 1930s
Lincoln cents may have always been popular with the public, but they didn’t hit the big time among coin collectors until the mid-1930s. That’s when the first coin boards designed for holding Lincoln cents were released.
Right away, sales of the first coin boards went crazy, and so did the nationwide enthusiasm for filling up those coin boards with Lincoln cents.
It was then that coin collectors first became aware of how rare the 1914-D cent is. It’s also when the popularity of the 1922 plain cent also increased — after all, people wanted something to fill the gap in boards where they thought a ‘Philadelphia’ cent should go!
By the 1940s, coin folders, coin albums, and other coin holders had been released to fulfill the demand for coin collectors who were assembling sets of Lincoln cents.
By the 1950s, values for some of the scarcer Lincoln cents had begun to escalate substantially. This only further helped drive the popularity of obtaining rare issues like the 1909-S VDB, 1909-S, 1914-D, and 1931-S Lincoln cents.
Lincoln Memorial Cents Replaced Wheat Cents
In 1959, the Lincoln Memorial replaced the wheat ears that had been on the reverse of Lincoln cents since 1909. Lincoln Memorial cents soon became just as much a part of the American fabric as the Lincoln wheat ear cents of earlier years. In fact, there are plenty of young people who have never seen a Lincoln wheat cent.
As the Lincoln cent reached its 70s, the price of copper began rising. The United States Treasury decided to change the composition of the Lincoln cent because the price of copper had simply gotten to expensive. In 1982, the Lincoln cent went from a 95% copper composition to a 2.5% copper coin.
Calls To End The Lincoln Cent
By the 1990s, some people had grown tired of the penny. Thinking the coin is too expensive to make (it is — it costs nearly 2 cents to make — more than it’s worth in face value!), these people believe it’s a waste to be making pennies anymore. Especially when so many sit in jars, piggy banks, boxes, coin collections, and even in the garbage.
Still, the Lincoln cent survived legislative action in the 2000s designed to stop the cent from production.
The Future Of The Lincoln Cent
How much longer will the Lincoln cent survive? Who’s to say. Yes, the cent has it’s detractors. But there are plenty more people who still love the coin and want to see it live on.
The Lincoln cent received a new reverse design in 2010 — the Union Shield Lincoln Cent has been popular among many so far. The 4 special designs of 2009 Lincoln cents honoring the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth have also been hits among coin collectors.
Even if production of Lincoln cents ends in the coming years, there’s no reason to believe the love for Lincoln cents will fade also. Legions of coin collectors young and old have a soft spot for the coin. Given the tens of billions of Lincoln cents available, they would probably still be in circulation for decades after the last is made.