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HomeUS Coins1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent : A Collector's Guide

1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent : A Collector’s Guide

1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions / Adobe Stock.
1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions / Adobe Stock.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..

The Lincoln Wheat Cent was set to enter its 50th year of production in 1959. The date marked the sesquicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth, and behind the scenes, the Treasury Department was putting into motion a plan to change the reverse of the cent to mark the occasion. Since the coin’s debut, the reverse design features two curved wheat stalks with Art Deco lettering conveying the coin’s denomination in large letters, with E PLURIBUS UNUM above and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA below.

The first public word on the design change came on December 21, 1958, when President Eisenhower’s Press Secretary James Hagerty put out the following release:

President Eisenhower approved today the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury Robert B. Anderson for the minting of a new reverse side of the one-cent Lincoln coin as a feature of the Lincoln Sesquicentennial Observance. Production of the changed coin will begin January Second…. The new permanent design was done by Frank Gasparro of the Philadelphia Mint and selected by Secretary Anderson and the Director of the Mint William H. Brett.

About the Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is a national monument honoring 16th president Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. Congress authorized it in 1910, and production began four years later with an allocation of $300,000. By the time the project was completed in 1922, the cost had reached just over $3 million. The Memorial was built in the style of a Greek temple and features 36 Doric columns representing the 36 states of the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death. The names of the states are also inscribed on the frieze, along with the dates they were admitted into the Union. In the center of the monument’s interior is a 60-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln by sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). French is notable in numismatic circles for his sculpture The Minute Man, depicted on the 1925 Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollar, and for his medallic output.

Assistant Engraver Frank Gasparro designed the 1959 Lincoln Memorial reverse that replaced the original 1909 wheat stalk design by Victor David Brenner. Gasparro’s initials FG appear on the lower-right side of the Lincoln Memorial. Below the edifice and along the rim are the words ONE CENT, while the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA runs along the top half of the reverse along the rim. Between the top of the Lincoln Memorial and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Gasparro would become Chief Engraver of the United States Mint in 1965.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

The 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent was heavily hoarded and remains abundant in Mint State Red. Gem-level coins sell for a few dollars less than the cost to certify them. Superb Gems are scarce and sell for steep premiums.

Dealers H.B. DeViney and H.R. Gayden of the Magnolia Coin Company of Jackson, Mississippi, offered BU rolls for $0.95 in the June 1961 Numismatist.

On April 29, 2024, an original bank-wrapped roll of 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cents was sold on eBay for $20.

Top Population: PCGS MS67+RD (4, 5/2023), NGC MS67+RD (3, 5/2024), and CAC None Graded (5/2024).

  • PCGS MS67+RD #38159669: Heritage Auctions, January 8, 2020, Lot 3249 – $2,520; Heritage Auctions, November 6, 2023, Lot 92222 – $4,320.
  • PCGS MS67+RD #80558302: Heritage Auctions, August 10, 2016, Lot 3263 – $5,886.75; “Charlie O’s Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 7, 2019, Lot 3513 – $5,040.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1959
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 609,715,000
Alloy: 95% copper, %5 tin and zinc
Weight: 3.11 g
Diameter: 19.05 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer: Victor David Brenner
REV Designer: Frank Gasparro
Quality: Business Strike


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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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  1. I have a lot of weat pennies and needs to be looked at and appraised i have a penny with a S over D mint mark

  2. Gas Station gave me change with a brand new looking 1959 Lincoln cent. Beautiful coin AU….wonder where it came from


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