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Lincoln Cents, Memorial Reverse (1959-2008)

The Lincoln cent’s 50th birthday, in 1959, also marked the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The Mint observed it by giving the cent a new reverse depicting the Lincoln Memorial. This was fashioned by Frank Gasparro, an assistant engraver (and future chief engraver) at the Mint.

Countless coin collectors got their start with the Lincoln cent. Issued since 1909, the denomination underwent a redesign in 1959 to mark to sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. The Memorial Reverse type, struck 1959-2008, contains no significant date-and-mint rarities. A complete set, including proofs, is within reach of many collectors of modest means.

There are several widely collected varieties and mint errors in the Memorial Reverse series. The 1960 Philadelphia and Denver issues have both Large and Small date varieties. The 1979-S and 1981-S proofs have two distinct mintmark types. Major doubling can be seen on the 1972, 1984 and 1995 and on the reverse of some cents dated 1983. The 1996, 1998, 1998-S, 1999, 1999-S, and 2000 have both Wide and Close AM (in AMERICA) varieties.

Perhaps the most significant varieties are from 1982. The Lincoln cent had been 95% copper since 1909 and with the rising price of copper the coins nearly cost as much to make as the stated denomination. Fearing that a continued rise in the price of copper would prompt speculative hoarding and melting, the Mint began to investigate new compositions. In 1974 more than 1.5 million cents were struck in aluminum as experimental pieces; almost all of these were melted, but have found their way to private hands.

In 1982 the composition of the cent was changed to copper-plated and the weight was reduced from 3.11 grams to 2.5 grams. Some 1982 cents were struck on the old 95% copper planchets while others had the new copper-plated zinc composition. Large and Small date varieties were also produced in 1982. A complete set of 1982 cents typically includes eight coins: 1982 Large Date Bronze, 1982 Small Date Bronze, 1982 Large Date Zinc, 1982 Small Date Zinc, 1982-D Large Date Bronze, 1982-D Large Date Zinc, 1982-D Small Date Zinc, and the 1982-S proof. There is no 1982-D Small Date Bronze variety.

In the mid-2000s there was growing support for a new Lincoln cent design to commemorate to centennial of the Lincoln cent and the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The Presidential $1 Coin Act, passed in 2005, authorized the Mint to issue four different reverse designs in 2009: “Birth & Childhood,” “Formative Years,” “Professional Life,” and “Presidency.”

Coins in Category

1959 1C MS 1959 D 1C MS 1960 SMALL DATE 1C MS 1960 LARGE DATE 1C MS 1960 D SMALL DATE 1C MS 1960 D LARGE DATE 1C MS 1961 1C MS 1961 D 1C MS 1962 1C MS 1962 D 1C MS 1963 1C MS 1963 D 1C MS 1964 1C MS 1964 D 1C MS 1965 1C MS 1966 1C MS 1967 1C MS 1968 1C MS 1968 D 1C MS 1968 S 1C MS 1969 1C MS 1969 D 1C MS 1969 S 1C MS 1969 S DOUBLED DIE OBV 1C MS 1970 1C MS 1970 D 1C MS 1970 S SMALL DATE 1C MS 1970 S LARGE DATE 1C MS 1971 1C MS 1971 D 1C MS 1971 S 1C MS 1972 1C MS 1972 DOUBLED DIE OBV 1C MS 1972 D 1C MS 1972 S 1C MS 1973 1C MS 1973 D 1C MS 1973 S 1C MS 1974 1C MS 1974 D 1C MS 1974 S 1C MS 1975 1C MS 1975 D 1C MS 1976 1C MS 1976 D 1C MS 1977 1C MS 1977 D 1C MS 1978 1C MS 1978 D 1C MS 1979 1C MS 1979 D 1C MS 1980 1C MS 1980 D 1C MS 1981 1C MS 1981 D 1C MS 1982 LG DT BRONZE 1C MS 1982 SM DT BRONZE 1C MS 1982 D LG DT BRONZE 1C MS 1982 LG DT ZINC 1C MS 1982 SM DT ZINC 1C MS 1982 D LG DT ZINC 1C MS 1982 D SM DT ZINC 1C MS 1983 1C MS 1983 DOUBLED DIE REV 1C MS 1983 D 1C MS 1984 1C MS 1984 DOUBLED DIE OBV 1C MS 1984 D 1C MS 1985 1C MS 1985 D 1C MS 1986 1C MS 1986 D 1C MS 1987 1C MS 1987 D 1C MS 1988 1C MS 1988 D 1C MS 1989 1C MS 1989 D 1C MS 1990 1C MS 1990 D 1C MS 1991 1C MS 1991 D 1C MS 1992 1C MS 1992 CLOSE "AM" 1C MS 1992 D 1C MS 1992 D CLOSE "AM" 1C MS 1993 1C MS 1993 D 1C MS 1994 1C MS 1994 D 1C MS 1995 1C MS 1995 DOUBLED DIE OBV 1C MS 1995 D 1C MS 1996 1C MS 1996 D 1C MS 1997 1C MS 1997 D 1C MS 1998 1C MS 1998 WIDE "AM" 1C MS 1998 D 1C MS 1999 1C MS 1999 WIDE "AM" 1C MS 1999 D 1C MS 2000 1C MS 2000 CHEERIOS PROMOTION 1C MS 2000 WIDE "AM" 1C MS 2000 D 1C MS 2001 1C MS 2001 D 1C MS 2002 1C MS 2002 D 1C MS 2003 1C MS 2003 D 1C MS 2004 1C MS 2004 D 1C MS 2005 1C MS 2005 SMS 1C MS 2005 D 1C MS 2005 D SMS 1C MS 2006 1C MS 2006 SMS 1C MS 2006 D 1C MS 2006 D SMS 1C MS 2007 1C MS 2007 SMS 1C MS 2007 D 1C MS 2007 D SMS 1C MS 2008 1C MS 2008 SMS 1C MS 2008 D 1C MS 2008 D SMS 1C MS 1960 1C MS

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