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

August 14, 2009 |  4:44 am

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

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