• Steven Heller

Penny Dreadful

The government is penny pinching. I mean, pinching the life out of the once noble copper coin. If you haven’t seen it already, the back of the 2010 penny looks as like it came from a novelty store. It gives penny dreadful new meaning.

From a field of 18 designs prepared by the United States Mint, the best they could come up with for the reverse side of President Lincoln’s coin was a union shield that is so tacky it might have been drawn by a Confederate?

The union shield features thirteen vertical stripes joined by a single horizontal bar at the top with the inscription ‘E Pluribus Unum’ (Out of many, one). This symbolizes the original thirteen states joined together in a single compact union. A scroll appears across the shield with the denomination ‘One Cent’ and ‘United States of America’ appears above the shield.

Designed by US Mint Artistic Infusion Program Associate Designer Lyndall Bass and engraved by US Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna, it is supposed to to represent Abe Lincoln’s preservation of the United States. And that’s a great tribute, but does it have to look so counterfeit? We all know a penny won’t buy anything, but just for old time’s sake, some of the other designs (below) showed a little more respect for our storied currency. The 2010 Lincoln Cent design selection was made by the United States Secretary of the Treasury after review and input from the United States Mint, Commission of Fine Arts, and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. Hey brother, can you spare design?