Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

U.S. Mint issues new-look Lincoln penny for discarding

A new Lincoln Penny

That U.S. coin that's worth so much hardly anyone bothers to pick up dropped ones has another new design coming out this week, the third of four versions released this year.

And collectors -- or other folks lacking cents -- can purchase two rolls of the new Lincoln pennies from the U.S. Mint for only nine times their $1 face value (plus, of course, shipping and handling).

In modern-day Washington, such inflationary numbers pass for a heckuva deal.

Arguably the greatest president of all 44, Abraham Lincoln, No. 16, has been on the one-cent coin for 100 years and 12 days, ever since Teddy Roosevelt ordered up the first to replace the Indian head penny and mark the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

It's the longest-circulating American coin of any being made and the first to carry the once noncontroversial words: "In God We Trust."

The Mint makes about 1,000 pennies per minute. For the average 25 to 30 years of use, each penny spends years collecting dust on dressers, entombed in the darkness of piggy banks or residing in cups on store counters for anyone who thinks they're worth taking.

This year's Lincoln pennies look different. See photo above, actual size. (Just kidding) Each 2009 version, of course, includes the familiar right-facing bust of Lincoln. The backs depict varying aspects of life for the country lawyer, one-time House member and unsuccessful Senate candidate who went on to beA new Lincoln Pennycome the country's first Republican president and the first assassinated.

One new penny shows the late president as a beardless, gangly young man sitting on a log reading a book, which he no doubt walked several miles to return by its due date.

This month's new penny portrays Lincoln standing in front of the old Illinois state capitol in Springfield to commemorate where Barack Obama would one later day announce his own successful presidential candidacy from a different party.

A third version depicts a simple log cabin, which was in 19th century American politics a standard political symbol of personal origin showing a candidate to be a regular man of the people much like, say, a Harvard Law School degree has become today.

The fourth Lincoln penny, due out in November, will show a topless U.S. Capitol building, not because it was blown off during nearby Civil War fighting but because it was being built during Lincoln's presidential terms. In fact, despite the war Lincoln insisted on continuing construction as a symbol of imperative national union.

As a symbol of contemporary federal fiscal thinking in Washington, each of the nearly 5.5 billion one-cent pieces stamped annually actually costs 1.4 cents to manufacture.

-- Andrew Malcolm

It costs not one Lincoln cent to click here for Twitter alerts on each new Ticket item. Or follow us   @latimestot

 
Comments () | Archives (16)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Well I guess the government should now devote time & efforts to plan & develop market growth plans than designing coins.

"As a symbol of contemporary federal fiscal thinking in Washington, each of the nearly 5.5 billion one-cent pieces stamped annually actually costs 1.4 cents to manufacture."

Your logic is flawed. If you are trying to state that the production of a penny results in a loss to the taxpayer of .4 cents, then 'ad absurdum', if it only costs 6.2 cents to produce a paper bill (Bureau of Engraving statistics- no matter what the denomination) the taxpayer nets a profit of anywhere from 93.8 cents to $9993.80 (10k bill Salmon P. Chase) and up...

correction to my math;
"the taxpayer nets a profit of anywhere from 93.8 cents to $9993.80 (10k bill Salmon P. Chase) and up..."
should be $9999.938

If my math is correct, that's another 2.222 million taxpayer dollars down the Congressional crapper, and, sadly, it's just another drop in the bucket. When do we take up arms against these idiots, Democrat & Republican alike, and storm the gates?

Elections don't cure idiocy.

When are we going to retire the penny? 1.4 cents to produce each penny, that doesn't sound like smart economics now does it? Even Mexico doesn't deal much with currency below half a peso (worth about 4 cents). Furthermore, why does the treasury need to produce more pennies? Are we running out of them? Or, are pennies worth so little that they are easily lost, melted down for scrap metal, or thrown out in the garbage?

For heaven's sake, when are they going to get rid of the penny? In a number of countries (New Zealand, for example) they just round up or down to the nearest five cents. For that matter, when are they going to discontinue the $1 bill? It's worth about a quarter now in Nixon-era purchasing power. The dollar coin will never succeed until they deep-six the dollar bill. In Britain, the smallest bill is five pounds (worth around $7).

Malcolm didn't mention that today's pennies technically are "one-cent pieces"; the "penny" is a UK coin which, in ancient times, when I collected coins, was copper and bigger than a US half-dollar.

Also, modern pennies are made of zinc, not the more expensive copper, and are copper plated. Be careful not the scratch off the copper plating: Zinc can be toxic, for those who hide their wealth by eating it up.

Pennies probably could be manufactured from plastic to get the cost below 1 cent.

Malcolm didn't mention that today's pennies technically are "one-cent pieces"; the "penny" is a UK coin which, in ancient times, when I collected coins, was copper and bigger than a US half-dollar.

Also, modern pennies are made of zinc, not the more expensive copper, and are copper plated. Be careful not the scratch off the copper plating: Zinc can be toxic, for those who hide their wealth by eating it up.

Pennies probably could be manufactured from plastic to get the cost below 1 cent.

A much lesser than Lincoln is living at 1600 Penn. Ave these days!!!

While the Lincoln Cent was the first penny to bear "In God We Trust", it was not the first coin, as the article says. The first coin with the phrase was the 1864 2-cent coin. Several other 19th century coins, mostly higher denomination silver and gold, also bore the motto.

It wasn't found on every coin until 1938 when the Jefferson Nickel debuted.

The US Mint has now sold over 500,000 of those $1 face value penny sets at $8.95 each. Makes up for some of the ones they release into circulation for face value.

Actually, during bad economic times like these, pennies are neither "entombed in the darkness of penny banks" nor collecting dust in dressers, they're actually being used. That's why the Mint stopped making new nickels and dimes for 6 months this summer and slowed penny production; more old coins were being spent and coming back into circulation. But most important, without the penny, consumers get hosed with rounding to the nickel.

All of you complaining against this that do not want pennies.
Please mail them to me. I will accept everyone you have.
I like the one cent coin, always have and always will.
Now you can look else where for something to gripe about.

Hey smartjames -

You can have my penny if you pay the postage.

Hey, this penny is very cool, i found one lying on the floor at shaws and the second i got home i jumped on the net to do some research.

All the Lincoln's pennies are, very valuable for Americans.


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics


Categories


Archives
 



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: