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What is the history of the Lincoln penny?

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Quick Answer

The Lincoln Penny was first introduced to the public in 1909, and is one of the longest-standing coin types in history. It was designed by Victor David Brenner, who was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to create the coin.

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Full Answer

President Roosevelt commissioned Brenner out of desire to make American coins more visually appealing, even though it was controversial at the time for an image of a person to be used on a U.S coin. The final model was based on a profile of Abraham Lincoln that Brenner had previously been working on. The penny originally displayed Brenner's initials on the base, but these were quickly removed soon after the coin's release due to public complaints that it detracted from the main design. The initials were reintroduced in 1918, albeit much smaller.

The coin was initially distributed in copper, which was replaced with steel in the early 1940s. Copper was used again in the early 1980s, until inflation caused copper to become too expensive, resulting in the use of zinc with an outer copper layer. The 50th anniversary of the Lincoln penny welcomed a new design due to public demand, where the reverse side was to feature the Lincoln Memorial Building.

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