The One-Cent coin, or Penny, was one of the first coins struck by the U.S. Mint in 1793. According to the Act of Congress in 1792 that authorized a unique United States coinage, the Penny was to be the lowest unit of denomination in the American monetary system. (A Half Cent coin was also made from 1793 to 1857.) Despite their lowly status, Pennies are among the most widely collected of all U.S. coins.
The first Penny was the Flowing Hair design in 1793. Like all early Pennies, this was a large copper coin that was heavier but slightly smaller than a modern Half Dollar. It was based on the large English Penny of this era. The Liberty Cap design was introduced in late 1793, but it was short-lived and replaced with the Draped Bust design in 1796. The Classic Head Penny was struck from 1808 to 1814, and the final large Penny was the Liberty Head issue of 1816 to 1857.
In 1856, the U.S. Mint struck the first small-size Penny. The small Flying Eagle Penny was an experimental coin to see whether the public preferred the small coin to the large and cumbersome Penny. It was a success, and in 1859 the Mint introduced the first permanent small Penny, the legendary Indian Head design. This classic coin was struck until 1909.
The Lincoln Penny was first made in 1909 and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2009. It is the first and only U.S. coin to be struck for 100 years. First issued to honor the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the original coin featured a portrait of Lincoln on the obverse and two ears of wheat surrounding the denomination on the reverse. In 1959, the reverse design changed to the Lincoln Memorial. To honor the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Penny, the U.S. Mint in 2009 will issue four different commemorative Pennies marking the four phases of Lincoln’s life. These will be the first commemorative Pennies in history.
Check out these Pennies