The US Mint closed another chapter of numismatic history Thursday (November 12, 2009), with the launch ceremony for the final coin from the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Program.
The 'Presidency' Cent, as it is known, portrays the final stage of the life of Abraham Lincoln. The previous three coins issued in the series honored the other aspects of his life: 'Birthplace,' 'Formative Years' and 'Professional Life.' Each design focused on Lincoln's life at that point and the ceremony for their launches took place where he had been living at the time.
Thursday's ceremony took place on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building, a location that was quite fitting since an unfinished Capitol dome is the featured design on the reverse of the last 2009 cent. The structure was still in an incomplete state when Lincoln arrived in Washington D.C. after being elected as the 16th President of the United States.
"The fourth and final 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Coin design evokes the historical challenges of Abraham Lincoln's presidency," said United States Mint Director Ed Moy. "The image of an incomplete U.S. Capitol symbolizes the unfinished business of a Nation torn apart by slavery and the Civil War."
Just like the launch ceremony for the previous three coins in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln City, Indiana and Hodgenville, Kentucky, the Mint handed out shiny pennies featuring the new design to all the children who attended. Adults were offered the opportunity to exchange cash for bank-wrapped rolls of the 'Presidency' Cent.
Many planned on keeping their newly purchased rolls as a reminder of the historic occasion while others already had the idea of selling at least some of them. These launch-day rolls have commanded premiums in the past, especially if stamped by the local post office identifying the location and date.
With the ceremony over, the Mint has also started releasing millions of the 'Presidency' cents into circulation through the Federal Reserve System. However, if the previous cents are any indicator, it could be quite some time before you see any in your change. As a sign of the questionable economy, local banks are not ordering new coinage since their vaults are full from coins exchanged by customers for cash.
Those wanting to insure they obtain the new design do have an option through the US Mint. For $8.95 (plus shipping) two-roll sets of the coins can be bought wrapped in special Mint wrapping.
One of the rolls contains 50 freshly minted coins from the Mint in Denver while the other contains 50 from the Mint in Philadelphia.
The half-finished Capitol dome on the reverse of the new cent was designed by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Susan Gamble and was sculpted by U.S. Mint Sculptor Joseph F. Menna. The obverse contains a version of Victor Brenner's portrait of Lincoln, much as it has been since the first Lincoln Cent launched a century ago.
In an interesting side note to the final release, the Mint also announced the 2010 Lincoln Cent design which, according to law, is to be emblematic of "Lincoln's preservation of the United States as a single, unified country."
Designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Associate Designer Lyndall Bass and engraved by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna, the new pennies will feature an image of a 13-stripe union shield with the inscription "E Pluribus Unum" on it.
A scroll will run across the shield with "One Cent" inscribed inside and "United States of America" will circle the top half of the coin.
Expect the 2010 coin to be released into circulation in January.