2009 is a banner year for anyone interested in the 16th President of the United States, and especially for those who collect coins or medals. A unique item available from the US Mint this year is the Abraham Lincoln Bronze Medal.
The Presidential Medals have played an important role in the history of the United States. The tradition of producing them started in 1801, when the US Mint created large silver peace medals with an image of the current president to be given to American Indians as they were encountered in the frontier.
This idea was not completely original however, as the powers of Europe had been creating medals with images of their royalty to be used for diplomatic purposes for many years.
The famed explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, had a large supply of the US silver medals on their expedition to the Pacific coast. Occurring between 1804-1806, the medals featured an image of President Thomas Jefferson. Lewis and Clark would use these Jefferson Indian Peace Medals as an offering of friendship to the Indian chiefs and warriors they would encounter.
The tradition of producing these "Indian Peace Medals" continued until 1869, when the term used to describe them changed to Presidential Medals. The obverse continued to bear a portrait of the current president, but the reverse no longer carried symbols of peace and friendship.
Instead, the reverse had the inaugural dates of the president, excerpts from their speeches, presidential symbols and seals, their terms of office or other comments relative to their administration. This design template has continued to this day, although the medals are now made out of bronze (90% copper and 10% zinc).
Medal design and order information
The current medal honoring Abraham Lincoln features his image with the name Abraham to the back, and Lincoln to the front. The reverse, originally designed by George T. Morgan, contains a wreath of oak and laurel within a pearled ring. Also included on the reverse are the inscriptions "INAUGURATED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MARCH 4, 1861", "SECOND TERM MARCH 4, 1865", "ASSASSINATED APRIL 14, 1865." Inside the wreath is the Egyptian symbol of eternity and immortality, a serpent with its tail in its mouth.
These medals are struck at the Philadelphia Mint, but without a 'P' mintmark. They come in two sizes, 1-5/16 inch and 3 inch, for $3.50 and $38.00, respectively. Each may be ordered directly from the US Mint online store at:
Coin collectors and those fascinated with the history of the United States or President Lincoln will also be interested in the 2009 Lincoln Silver Dollars or the new 2009 Lincoln cents available this year. The pennies feature 4 new designs, issued throughout the year. Each depicts a different aspects of Abraham Lincolns life; from his birth in Kentucky, to growing up in Indiana, to his professional life in Illinois, and finally his presidency in Washington D.C.