The 2010 U.S. Penny

Learn About the 2010 One Cent Coin

Lincoln One-Cent Coin With Shield Reverse

The United States Mint,

New Penny Design

The United States began issuing pennies with a new design on the reverse (tails side) in 2010. A special set of reverse designs were issued in 2009 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln's birth. These commemorated the four stages of Lincoln's life: Birth and Early Childhood, Formative Years, Professional Life, and Presidency. These new circulating commemorative coins were popular with the public and rekindled an interest in collecting Lincoln pennies.

This new reverse design was created by United States Mint's Artistic Infusion Program Associate Designer Lyndall Bass, and sculpted by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. It depicts a shield with thirteen vertical stripes and bearing the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. A banner across the front reads ONE CENT. When the new design debuted in 2010, reactions were mixed. Art critics disliked the new design and considered it dull and bland. The general public embrace the new design.

The style of the shield calls to mind an artistic style that was popular during the Civil War era when President Lincoln preserved the splintering Union and set the United States back on the path to being healthy and whole again. The design contains symbolism that is important to Americans, including the 13 stripes to represent the 13 original colonies. The stripes support a horizontal bar bearing the motto that means "out of many, one," and which represent the federal government unifying the colonies together.

This reverse design began appearing on pennies dated 2010, and is expected to remain in place for at least 25 years or until the one-cent coin type is abolished in the United States. Currently, there are no firm plans to do away with the penny. The obverse, or "heads" side, will remain the same as it has been since 1909, bearing the portrait of Abraham Lincoln designed by Victor David Brenner.

History of the Lincoln Penny

The Lincoln penny was first minted in 1909. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt was sitting for a portrait being designed by Victor David Brenner for the Panama Canal Service Medal. Roosevelt noticed some of Brenner's work that featured the late President Abraham Lincoln. Roosevelt wanted to redesign the nation's coinage and bring a classic look and feel to our coins.

Brenner submitted his models to the United States Mint in February 1909. The obverse featured a portrait of Pres. Lincoln on the obverse and two stylized stalks of durum wheat on the reverse. He included his three and initials V. D. B. at the bottom of the reverse. Previously only the initial of the designer's last name appeared on any U.S. coins. When the Chief Engraver of the United States Mint Charles Barber saw the three initials, he demanded that they be removed. Unfortunately, some coins were already produced and released into circulation that had the three initials. The dies were modified and they initials removed.

In 1959, after fifty years of wheat penny production, the reverse was changed and included a rendering of the Lincoln Memorial designed by Frank Gasparro. This design continued for another fifty years until a series of four reverses that commemorated the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth replaced the Lincoln Memorial reverse in 2009.

The United States Mint produced three special Proof Lincoln cents in 2019 for collectors. Although these are not the first pennies produced at the West Point mint facility, they will be the first penny to feature a "W" mint mark. The coins were available in three different finishes: Proof, Reverse Proof, and Uncirculated. The only way to obtain these coins were through the purchase of United States Proof Sets or United States Uncirculated Sets.

Coin Specifications

Weight: 2.5 g

Diameter: 19.0 mm

Thickness: 1.55 mm

CompositionCore: 99.2% zinc, 0.8% copper. Plating: 100% copper


Designer: Victor D. Brenner

Engraver: Victor D. Brenner 

Description:  Portrait of Lincoln facing right with IN GOD WE TRUST along the top rim, LIBERTY to the left of Lincoln's portrait, the date and mintmark (if any) to the right.


Designer: Lyndall Bass

Engraver: Joseph Menna

Description: The reverse features a union shield with a scroll draped across it. The 13 vertical stripes of the shield represent the states joined in one compact union to support the federal government, represented by the horizontal bar above.

Edited by: James Bucki