WASHINGTON — Next year, the penny will be getting not just one new look but four of them, the first changes to the 1-cent coin in 50 years.
The U.S. Mint unveiled the new designs during a ceremony Monday at the Lincoln Memorial. The coin changes are part of the government’s commemoration next year of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.
Lincoln’s profile will reman on one side of the coin but the Lincoln Memorial will be replaced on the other side by the new images, with a different one being introduced every three months.
The first new design will depict a log cabin, representing the place in Kentucky where Lincoln was born in 1809.
The second design will feature a young Lincoln taking a break from working as a rail splitter in Indiana by reading a book. Lincoln as a young lawyer standing in front of the old state capitol building in Springfield, Ill., will be the design on the third coin.
The final coin in the series will show the half-completed Capitol dome, evoking Lincoln’s famous order that construction of the Capitol should continue during the Civil War as a symbol that the Union would continue.
The first new penny is scheduled to go into circulation starting on Feb. 12, Lincoln’s birthday, and then every three months after that.
The changing designs mark another effort by the Mint to duplicate the success of the 50-state quarter program, the most popular coin collecting program in U.S. history. The nickel also had changing designs to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Mint has embarked on an effort to revive interest in a $1 coin by introducing four new designs each year honoring a different president.
Under the law that authorized the design changes for the Lincoln penny, after 2009 the “tails” side of the coin will be changed to feature “an image emblematic of President Lincoln’s preservation of the United States as a single and united country.” That image has not been chosen yet.
Lincoln’s image was added to the penny in 1909 when the nation was celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth and the Lincoln Memorial was added to the other side of the coin in 1959 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 16th president’s birth.
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