Our New Penny: Little-Known Facts, Current Values, And Controversy About The Lincoln Shield Penny (2010-Present)



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In 2010, a new penny entered into circulation.

The Lincoln cent, which turned 101 years old that year, bears a shield on the reverse.

It’s the 3rd long-term reverse design in the Lincoln cent series.

 

How The Shield Penny Came To Be

The Shield cent is 1 of 18 original concepts that U.S. Mint artists created for the new United States coin..

Several proposed design topics for the new penny were considered, including:

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

The design proposals were released to the public in May 2009.

The final choice for the reverse design of the 2010 Lincoln cent ultimately lied in the hands of the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

On November 12, 2009 (the same day the United States Mint released the last of the 4 Lincoln Bicentennial cent designs into circulation), the U.S. Mint unveiled the new penny design for 2010 and beyond.

 

In January of 2010, the new penny was officially released into circulation and in coin sets made by the U.S. Mint.

 

Facts About The New Penny

Every coin has some interesting and fun info and trivia behind it.

Here are a few things you might not know about the new penny:

  • Lyndall Bass is the designer of the reverse on the new Lincoln cent.
  • Josesph 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 vertical stripes on the shield — which represent the original 13 states.
  • There is a horizontal bar at the top — which represents the federal government.
  • “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is inscribed on a banner across the shield.
  • The metal composition of the Lincoln cent in 2010 (and in later years) is copper-plated zinc, which has been the penny’s composition for circulation strikes since 1982.

 

Design Of The New Shield Penny

Lincoln’s portrait remains on the obverse (heads side) of the penny — it looks just as it has since it was first placed on the U.S. penny in 1909.

It is only the obverse (tails side) of the new penny that was changed in 2010.

The shield design on the new one-cent coin is, in many ways, a throwback that hearkens to the days of the Two Cent piece and Shield nickel — both of which were coins made in the U.S. during the mid-1800s. A shield is the central element on both of those coins.

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

The shield represents President Lincoln’s ability to maintain the Union even during the Civil War, which threatened to rip our nation in two.

 

Controversy About The New Penny Design

There was a bit of controversy regarding the proposed designs for the 2010 Lincoln cents.

It involves the wheat stalk design LP-18 (which is the last design seen in the very first link above).

The Commission of Fine Arts had actually chosen the wheat stalk design as their favorite. However, a major issue arose upon further investigation. The wheat stalk design is strikingly similar to Germany’s pfennig (a type of German coin) design from the 1920s and 1930s!

Take a look and see for yourself.

 

How The Lincoln Cent Has Changed

The Lincoln cent has a long history.

First minted in 1909, the Lincoln cent replaced the Indian Head cent. The original Lincoln penny had a design on the reverse showing 2 wheat stalks. The wheat ears design was minted from 1909 through 1958.

Wheat pennies have long been a favorite of coin collectors!

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.

In 2009, the U.S. Mint released pennies with 4 special designs on the reverse side — commemorating the bicentennial (200th anniversary) of Lincoln’s birth.

The 4 designs depict the following:

  1. Lincoln’s birthplace, a Kentucky log cabin
  2. Lincoln’s formative years, when he was a log splitter and voracious reader
  3. Lincoln’s professional life in Illinois, where he was a senator
  4. Lincoln’s presidency, during which the Civil War took place and ended while Lincoln was president from 1861 to 1865

In 2010, the U.S. Mint released the new Lincoln Shield penny — it replaced the 50-year-old Lincoln Memorial design with the union shield.

 

The Future Of The Lincoln Penny

The new penny’s 2010 design will most likely remain unchanged for many, many years to come — or until the penny is removed from circulation for good.

There has actually been some controversy on that issue (whether or not to even keep the one cent coin around) — because it’s becoming very costly to keep minting it every year.

Did you know that it costs 1.82 cents to make every U.S. penny today?

 

Current Shield Penny Values

Wondering what your Lincoln Shield pennies are worth?

Here’s a look at the latest values for Lincoln Shield cents made since 2010:

  • 2010 — 10 cents
  • 2010-D — 10 cents
  • 2010-S Proof — $3
  • 2011 — 10 cents
  • 2011-D — 10 cents
  • 2011-S Proof — $3
  • 2012 — 10 cents
  • 2012-D — 10 cents
  • 2012-S Proof — $3
  • 2013 — 10 cents
  • 2013-D — 10 cents
  • 2013-S Proof — $3
  • 2014 — 10 cents
  • 2014-D — 10 cents
  • 2014-S Proof — $3
  • 2015 — 10 cents
  • 2015-D — 10 cents
  • 2015-S Proof — $3
  • 2016 — 10 cents
  • 2016-D — 10 cents
  • 2016-S — $3
  • 2017-P — 10 cents
  • 2017-D — 10 cents
  • 2017-S — $3
  • 2018 — 10 cents
  • 2018-D — 10 cents
  • 2018-S Proof — $3
  • 2019 — 10 cents
  • 2019-D — 10 cents
  • 2019-W — $10
  • 2019-S Proof — $3
  • 2019-W Proof — $10
  • 2019-W Reverse Proof — $10
  • 2020 — 10 cents
  • 2020-D — 10 cents
  • 2020-S Proof — $4

*Prices are for coins in uncirculated condition unless otherwise specified as “proof”. Unless an error or special variety, circulated Shield pennies (the types found in circulation) are worth face value.

 

3 Tips For Collecting The Shield Penny

Lincoln Shield cents are extremely common, and they are gradually overtaking the presence of Lincoln Memorial cents in circulation.

Here are 3 ways to help make your goals of collecting Lincoln Shield pennies even easier and more fun:

  1. Look for varieties. There have been several reports of Lincoln Shield penny errors and varieties — including minor doubled dies, die cracks, and off-center errors. These are worth a small premium over regular values.
  2. Check coin rolls for valuable uncirculated pieces. The earlier Lincoln Shield cents have been in circulation for years now and they’re showing it. Many are worn and discolored due to environmental damage. However, you can find nice uncirculated examples from all different years in bank rolls.
  3. Assemble a date-and-mintmark set while Shield penny values are still low. If you really want to build a nice Lincoln Shield cent collection, start buying all the different uncirculated and proof issues going back to 2010. Prices are still relatively low for Lincoln Shield pennies, and if you wish to build a complete set this is the time to do it — before prices possibly go up in the future.

Joshua

I'm the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!

11 thoughts on “Our New Penny: Little-Known Facts, Current Values, And Controversy About The Lincoln Shield Penny (2010-Present)

    1. 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.

  1. 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: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009_lincoln_cent/

    1. 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. 🙂

      1. 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!

  2. 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?

    1. Ann,

      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: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009_lincoln_cent/

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

  3. Another phony coin. Like the folks that designed it; a fancy outside with nothing (zinc, in the penny’s case) inside.

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