Celebrate National One Cent Day with APMEX

Published on 4/26/2021 by APMEX

Celebrate National One Cent Day with APMEX

To commemorate the issuance of the one cent coin issued by the United States in 1793, National One Cent Day is observed on April 1st every year.

Large Cents (1793-1857)

Large Cents are very widely collected in America. An important issue is the 1793 Large Cent. It was one of the first coins struck by the U.S. Mint, the 1793 Large Cents come in three types: the “Chain” Cent, the “Wreath” Cent and the “Liberty Cap” design. Large Cents were minted between 1793 and 1857.

Large Cents featured a variety of designs from their introduction until they were replaced by the smaller-sized Flying Eagle cent in 1857. The earliest issues featured Henry Voigt’s flowing hair obverse, paired first with the famed Chain Cent reverse and later with a wreath reverse.

Midway through 1793 production, the obverse was replaced by Joseph Wright’s liberty cap design, featuring a more detailed Liberty with a Phrygian cap, symbolic of freedom, in the background. Another important change came with a statutory devaluation in 1795, as the thick planchet variety was replaced was phased out in favor of the 10.89 gram thin planchet, which would be used for all subsequent Large Cents.

From 1796, Large Cents used the Draped Bust obverse designed by Robert Scot, and similar to the design used on larger denominations. This design was replaced by the short-lived Classic Head obverse for 1808-1814.

Due to a shortage of Copper, production was discontinued in 1815 – the sole year of the U.S. Mint’s existence that saw the production of no one cent coins. When production resumed for 1816, the Classic Head, though still in use on the half eagle, had been replaced by the Matron Head design, featuring a Liberty with long hair and wearing a coronet bearing the inscription “LIBERTY.” This design was used until 1839, with minor modifications made in 1835 to give Liberty a more youthful appearance.

A final redesign in 1839 introduced the braided hair design, which would be used until the Large Cents’ discontinuation in 1857 due to rising production costs and waning popularity.

Large Cents were minted between 1793 and 1857.

Small Cents

Flying Eagle Pennies (1856-1858)

Released in 1857, Flying Eagle pennies were created to replace the unpopular large-sized Copper pennies. Called “nicks” because they now contained nickel instead of just Copper, Flying Eagle pennies have proved extremely popular over the decades, especially since it is such a short series.

The 1856 Flying Eagle cent is technically a pattern coin, but due to its popularity and large mintage (for a pattern), it has been widely collected. It has also been widely counterfeited. The original mintage of this date was estimated to be 1,000 coins but has been updated to approximately 1,500 to 2,500 coins. 1858 has both large and small letter designs.

Indian Head Pennies (1859-1909)

The second of the U.S. “small cents,” the Indian Head is one of the most popular U.S. coins ever struck. The obverse features Liberty wearing a feathered headdress, while the reverse depicts a wreath encircling the words “one cent.”

Minted between 1859 and 1909, these popular pennies 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. In 1864, both Copper-nickel and bronze pennies were minted. Finally, bronze pennies were minted between 1864 and the end of this series in 1909.

Lincoln Wheat Pennies (1909-1958)

The Lincoln Cent might never have existed but for the persistence of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. His personal and professional acquaintance with renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens added to this conviction, and Roosevelt eventually commissioned Saint-Gaudens to begin redesigning all of the U.S. coinage. Sadly, Saint-Gaudens passed away before he fished the U.S. coins, or we would likely have had a Saint-Gaudens penny, showcasing his signature artistic flair.

Instead, we have the familiar profile of President Abraham Lincoln designed by Victor Brenner. Before the Lincoln Wheat Cent, the U.S. Mint refrained from placing the image of a real person, either living or dead, on circulating coins. However, slain President Abraham Lincoln was already thought of as a heroic American icon by the turn of the twentieth century, and Roosevelt conceived the idea of featuring Lincoln on an American coin as soon as he viewed sculptor Victor David Brenner's bronze plaque of Lincoln.

Lincoln Memorial Pennies (1959-present)

In 2009, the U.S. Mint issued four different pennies throughout the year as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent Program. The program recognized Lincoln’s 200th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the first Lincoln cent. The themes on the reverses represented the four major aspects of Lincoln’s life.

Celebrate National One Cent Day by using #EngraversNationalCentDay, #OneCentDay and #NationalOneCentDay on social media.

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