Starting in 1959, The Mint starting stamping the back of the penny with the image of the Lincoln Memorial. The year 1959 was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. From 1959–1962 the penny was made up of 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc. However, from 1962–1982, the composition of the penny was changed by removing the tin, making the penny 95% copper and 5% zinc. They all would weigh in at 3.11 grams. The pennies made from 1982 to present, weigh 2.5 grams and are made up of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper, most of which is a pure copper plating on the outside.
There are many differences over the years that are worth noting such as, in 1969, Lincoln’s head was made slightly smaller than in years prior. Some 1984 pennies have Lincoln’s ear that appears to be doubled. The Mint even experimented with aluminum cents as a cost-saving measure. Although, none would be released for circulation.
In 2009, The Mint celebrated 200 years since Lincoln’s birth with four different obverse designs. They are known as “Presidency”, “Formative Years”, “Professional Life”, and “Birth and Early Childhood”.
Starting in 2010, the reverse of the penny has a “shield” design. They are produced at all three mints located in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Denver.
If you like this article, then you might enjoy other articles in our archives, such as A Coin Flip That Shaped Northwest History.
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