Collecting Lincoln Memorial Cents 4


In my previous post, I spoke of the Lincoln Wheat Cents from 1909 to 1958. Today I will talk about the next 50 years of the Lincoln Cent. Here we go.

Brief History

Before 1958 came to a close, it was decided that the reverse of the Lincoln Cent would change in 1959. They would be released on February 12, 1959, the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The reverse of the cent would have the Lincoln Memorial, designed by Frank Gasparro. Supposedly, Gasparro never visited the Li1960 Lincoln Centsncoln Memorial.

In 1960, the mint produced small and large date cents in Philadelphia and Denver. The ‘6’ and ‘0’  were smaller which resulted in possibly being filled in. So, the mint decided to make the date larger, making the smaller dates rarer, especially in Philadelphia. The easiest way to distinguish either variety is looking at the ‘6’. In 1970, San Francisco would have small and large date varieties.

The Lincoln Memorial Cents would be minted from 1959 to 2008. 2009 would be the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and 4 reverses would be released. In 2010, the reverse was changed to a shield.

From Copper to Zinc1982 Zinc Cent

With the rising price of copper during the 1970s, there was thought of changing the cent’s composition, In 1973, there was consideration to make aluminum pennies  There were over a million aluminum cents that would have been released in 1974, but was scrapped because these cents could jam vending machines. In 1981, it was decided that the cents would be made of 97.5% zinc covered in copper. 1982 would have both copper and zinc cents released, but by 1983, all of the cents would be zinc. The early zinc cents would be minted in West Point, but with no mint mark, like Philadelphia. As in 1960, there would be large and small dates for copper and zinc cents in Philadelphia and Denver. One con of the zinc cents is they lose their luster quicker than the copper cents.

How easy would it be to collect Lincoln Memorial Cents

There are no real key dates since billions of cents were produced each year. The small dates are probably the closest there are to key dates. Is it too easy to collect these coins or would you consider it?


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4 thoughts on “Collecting Lincoln Memorial Cents

  • Sean @U.E.P.

    Wonderful information. I went through a big phase of collecting coins. I still have my pride and joy, the 1865 two-cent piece that I picked up at a local coin store. I like the idea of knowing that Abraham Lincoln could have held it while he was still alive… Anyways, I found your page to be incredibly informing. I had no idea that pennies had been made of Zinc for so long! I thought that the Fed had just recently made them Zinc around the release of the newer “Shield” penny around 2010 or so… Very useful information for anyone that shares an interest in coin collecting. Thank you.

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks Sean for commenting! That’s great you have the 1865 Two Cent Piece. I think I have an 1864 in my type set. Too bad it wasn’t popular since it only lasted till 1873.

      In the 70’s the price of copper was going up to a point where it would cost a cent to make a cent. That’s why they started making zinc cents in 1982. Since then, copper has continued to go up and there has been talk from time to time to stop minting cents even though there is very little copper in it now.

  • Lee

    Hi KCorina,
    Nicely done. Years ago, I collected coins, but eventually lost interested and gave my collection to my daughter. I like the layout of your page and it is very informative. The only issue I found was in the “Brief History” section, your word “release” should be changed to “released”.

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks Lee! I’ll have to make the correction. Maybe someday you’ll return to coin collecting. I’ve stop a couple of times but always seem to return.