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New Images on Coin’s Reverse Will Mark Lincoln’s 200th Birthday




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New Images on Coin’s Reverse Will Mark Lincoln’s 200th Birthday

WASHINGTON – President Bush yesterday signed into law legislation directing the Secretary of the Treasury to issue Lincoln pennies with four newly designed reverse, or “tails” side, images in 2009, the 200th anniversary Abraham Lincoln’s birth. 

Michael Bishop, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, hailed the bill’s enactment as an important accomplishment for the Commission because “the penny is perhaps the most visible and tangible reminder of Lincoln’s significance in American history.”

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was created by Congress to coordinate the national observance of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

The new pennies will feature four new designs on the reverse side of the coins, marking different aspects of the 16th president’s life: his birth and early childhood in Kentucky; his formative years in Indiana; his professional life in Illinois; and his presidency in Washington.  The new images in 2009 will be the first redesign of the penny in 50 years.

After 2009, the “tails” side of the coin will feature “an image emblematic of the President Lincoln’s preservation of the United States of America as a single and united country,” according to the legislation.

The “Lincoln cent” first appeared during the centennial observation of Lincoln’s birth in 1909 and represented a major departure from previous American coinage.  For the first time, a U.S. coin depicted a real historical figure rather than the allegorical “Liberty” figures or the more generic “Indian head” that immediately preceded Lincoln on the penny.  Victor David Brenner’s profile of Lincoln, which has appeared continuously on the obverse, or “head” side, of the penny since its introduction in 1909, will remain through and after the 2009 bicentennial celebrations.

The original penny legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and in the House by Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), two of three co-chairs of the ALBC.  It passed in the Senate on November 18 and in the House on December 13.

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