In the fall of 1908 President
Theodore Roosevelt commissioned sculptor Victor David Brenner to design
the Lincoln Wheat Cent in honor of the 100th anniversary of President
Lincoln's birth. The Lincoln Cent was the first ...
In the fall of 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned sculptor
Victor David Brenner to design the Lincoln Wheat Cent in honor of the
100th anniversary of President Lincoln's birth. The Lincoln Cent was
the first U.S. coin to feature the likeness of a historical figure, and
the first cent to display the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. President
Roosevelt initially rejected the idea of having the motto appear on the
coin, possibly due to the feeling that having God's name engraved on
coinage would be sacrilege. However, President Taft had taken office
while the coin was still in the design phase and supported including
The coins were released on August 2,
1909. This new cent was in such high demand that many banks ran out of
them on the first day. After just two days in circulation the Mint
stopped production on the Lincoln Wheat Cent due to public protest over
the prominence of the artist's initials (V.D.B) on the reverse of the
coin. The initials were removed and production resumed within the same
month, making the Lincoln Wheat Cent 1909 V.D.B. a highly sought after
coin by collectors. Brenner's initials were restored in a diminished
size in 1918 on the obverse of the coin above Lincoln's shoulder.
In 1943 the composition of the
Lincoln wheat cent was changed to zinc-coated steel to conserve copper
for munitions needed in World War II. The steel cents encountered
problems ranging from production difficulties to appearance and use in
circulation. The following year the War Production board made copper,
taken from discarded shell casings, available to the Mint and the
composition was changed to 95% copper & 5% zinc. In 1947 the
coin was returned to the original pre-war composition of 95% copper and
5% zinc/tin alloy.
Lincoln Wheat Cents were issued by
the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints.