The first small cents were of the Flying Eagle type. They were minted between 1856 and 1858, but the 1856 has often been considered to be a pattern coin, since only approximately 2,000 pieces were minted. They were made of copper-nickel but were not widely accepted by the public.
The demise of the Flying Eagle cent gave rise to the Indian Cent. These coins do not actually have an Indian portrait on the obverse; it is actually a depiction of Liberty. Minted between 1859 and 1909, these popular cents came in various metals. In 1859, a copper-nickel cent with a laurel wreath reverse was first minted. It was followed by a copper-nickel oak wreath cent that was minted between 1860 and 1864. During 1864, both copper-nickel and bronze cents were minted. Finally, bronze cents were minted between 1864 and the end of this series in 1909. Indian Cents survived both the Civil War and the Spanish American War. Artistically designed by James B. Longacre, they are widely collected.
But the most enduring US coin is the Lincoln Cent. Designed by Victor David Brenner, they have been minted continuously since 1909. The "wheat ear" variety was minted between 1909 and 1958, while the Lincoln Memorial variety was minted between 1959 and 2008. In 2009, several new reverse designs were issued to celebrate the bi-centennial of Lincoln's birth and the centennial of the minting of these popular coins. Since 2010, the reverse features a Shield design.
Virtually all collectors started their collection with the Lincoln cent.
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Last Updated: 7/29/2016 6:09:44 AM ET
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