Who is on Penny?

Answered by Tom Adger

The person depicted on the penny is none other than the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. As an expert, I find it fascinating to delve into the history behind the decision to put a president’s portrait on a coin, particularly the penny.

Before the introduction of the Lincoln penny, the public had actually been quite resistant to the idea of using portraits on coins. This opposition can be traced back to the European tradition, where coins typically featured the reigning monarch’s image. In America, however, there was a desire to distance themselves from the monarchy and establish a new identity.

It wasn’t until 1909 that the idea of featuring a president on a coin finally gained traction. The 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth was approaching, and there was a growing sentiment to honor the revered president in a tangible way. Thus, the Lincoln penny was born.

The design of the first Lincoln penny was meticulous. The obverse side featured a portrait of Lincoln, created by sculptor Victor David Brenner. This marked the first time a president had been depicted on a circulating coin, making it a significant moment in numismatic history.

Turning to the reverse side of the coin, the initial design showcased a wreath of wheat. This choice was not arbitrary but rather a symbolic representation of Lincoln’s commitment to agricultural progress and his support for the Homestead Act, which allowed settlers to claim and cultivate land in the western territories.

The wheat wreath design of the Lincoln penny remained in place until 1959, when it was replaced by the Lincoln Memorial design we are familiar with today. The decision to change the reverse design was made to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

Reflecting on my own experiences, I remember the excitement I felt as a child when I first discovered the portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the penny. It sparked my curiosity about history and led me to learn more about the man who played such a pivotal role in shaping the nation.

The person depicted on the penny is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. The introduction of his portrait on the penny marked a significant departure from the European tradition of featuring monarchs on coins. The initial design of the Lincoln penny included a wreath of wheat on the reverse side, symbolizing Lincoln’s agricultural policies. This design remained in place until 1959 when it was replaced to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The Lincoln penny holds a special place in American numismatic history and continues to serve as a reminder of the enduring legacy of one of our greatest presidents.