By Steven Cochran for Gainesville Coins ……
In 2009, the United States Mint marked the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth with a four-coin series of circulating commemorative cents. Known as the “Lincoln Bicentennial” series, the program consisted of four different reverse designs marking major milestones in Lincoln’s life.
The 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial Designs
The obverse for Lincoln pennies remained the same in 2009. The difference with the new commemorative coins was the 2009 Lincoln cent reverse.
The first commemorative reverse, named “Birth and Early Childhood in Kentucky”, showed a rough log cabin similar to the one where Lincoln was born.
The second design was named “Formative Years in Indiana”. This design portrayed a young adult Lincoln taking a break from rail splitting and studying with a book. Lincoln was largely self-taught as a young man.
The third design, “Professional Life in Illinois”, shows Lincoln in front of the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. Lincoln worked as a lawyer in Springfield and served in the State Legislature.
The fourth and final design in the series was named “Presidency in Washington, D.C.”. It shows the United States Capitol under construction as it appeared on the day of Lincoln’s first inauguration. This scene is meant to invoke Lincoln’s determination to rebuild the nation after the Civil War.
The Value of a 2009 Lincoln Cent
The combined mintage of all four designs from both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints was more than 2.3 billion coins. Combined with the fact that many millions of Lincoln Bicentennial cents were saved by the public, it is small wonder that they are so seldom seen in circulation.
That hoarding also explains why a Lincoln Bicentennial cent is not worth much more than face value in any grade less than MS65. A certified 2009 Lincoln cent grading MS65 often sells for around $15. Prices can escalate from there, to around $100 for an MS67.
Prices below are quoted from NGC Coin Explorer for coins designated “Red” (RD) in the finest known grade. Values for coins designated “Red-Brown” (RB) or “Brown” (B) will typically be lower. For Proofs, coins with the “Ultra Cameo” designation tend to garner higher prices:
2009 Lincoln Cent Designs and Mintages
All 2009 Lincoln cents retained the obverse by Victor D. Brenner that has been in use since the Lincoln cent was introduced in 1909. The circulation strike 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial cents were produced on the normal copper-clad zinc core blanks. The four 2009-S Proof Lincoln cent designs and the Satin Finish Lincoln cents in the 2009 Uncirculated Set were struck from 95% pure copper—the first time Lincoln cents had been made of copper since 1982.
1: Birthplace in Kentucky
Released: February 12, 2009 (Lincoln’s 200th birthday), in Hodgenville, Kentucky
- (P): 284,400,000
- D: 350,400,000
The log cabin scene on the reverse was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Jim Licaretz.
2: Formative Years in Indiana
Released: May 14, 2009, in Lincoln City, Indiana
- (P): 376,000,000
- D: 363,600,000
The depiction of the young “railsplitter” Lincoln was designed and sculpted by Charles L. Vickers.
3: Professional Life in Illinois
Released: August 13, 2009, in Springfield, Illinois
- (P): 316,000,000
- D: 336,000,000
4: Presidency in Washington, D.C.
Released: November 12, 2009, in Washington, D.C.
- (P): 129,600,000
- D: 198,000,000
This reverse was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Joseph Menna.
2009 Proof Lincoln Cents
There were 2,995,615 Proof Sets made in 2009.
The Proof 2009 Lincoln cent designs were struck with a mirror finish in the fields with frosted features. They were struck on solid 95% copper bronze planchets, just like the original 1909 Lincoln cent. The Proof 2009-S Lincoln cent was only available in the 18-coin 2009 Proof Set, made at the San Francisco Mint.
In addition to the four Proof 2009 Lincoln cents, each set contained four Proof Presidential dollar coins, one Proof Sacagawea dollar coin, six Proof 50 States quarter designs, one Proof dime, one Proof nickel, and one Proof Kennedy half dollar.
2009 Satin Finish Lincoln Cents
784,614 Uncirculated Mint Sets were produced in 2009.
The Satin Finish 2009 Lincoln cents were only issued as part of the 2009 Uncirculated coin sets. These sets used special burnished dies to give a satin finish to the fields on each coin.
The 2009 Uncirculated coin set comprised 36 coins, double the number in the Proof sets. These sets featured all 18 coin designs and denominations issued in 2009 for both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.
Errors and Varieties
There are many instances of errors on the different 2009 Lincoln cent mintages, but the supply of most of them is greater than collector demand. PCGS recognizes only one set of varieties—the die doubling on Lincoln’s hand on the “Formative Years” design.
On the “Birthplace in Kentucky” cent, look for die doubling on the ends of the logs in the front left corner of the log cabin. The doubling will generally affect only two or three logs. These logs can be in different places. Sometimes the E in ONE and the C in CENT are doubled.
The doubled die errors on the “Formative Years” 2009 Lincoln cent are the most visible and dramatic errors of the series. These varieties involve doubled fingers or thumbs. This is the only series of 2009 Lincoln cent varieties recognized by PCGS, which lists eight different doubled die reverses. These errors can be thought of as similar to the “extra corn leaf” doubled die reverses on the 2004-D Wisconsin quarter in visibility and popularity.
Die errors on the 2009 “Professional Life” Lincoln cent are concentrated on the third upstairs window to the left, where filled-in window panes and doubled window sills are the most common ones found.
Doubled die reverses on the “Presidency” 2009 Lincoln cent are most often present on the upper and lower window panes on the front of the Capitol. Some DDRs appear on the front door of the Capitol and nearby windows.