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The 2008 Lincoln Memorial Cent: Marking The End Of An Era

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 Posted 01/25/2021  3:55 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add CCFPress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
PCGS - The numismatic world quietly said goodbye to an old friend in 2008 with the passing of the Lincoln Memorial subtype, a design that withstood for 50 years on the one-cent coin. It was the motif that helped spark numismatic journeys for at least two generations of collectors. Still, more than a decade after its obsolescence upon eventually being permanently replaced by the Union Shield design in 2010, the Lincoln Memorial design by Frank Gasparro remains a familiar presence in circulation.

Lincoln Cent (Modern), 2008 1C, RD, PCGS MS66RD

Frank Gasparro's Legacy
The Lincoln Memorial design debuted in 1959 to honor the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth in 1809. Replacing the Lincoln Wheat Ears reverse design that premiered with the Lincoln Cent in 1909, the design features the massive Lincoln Memorial, which was dedicated in Washington, D.C., in 1922. The Lincoln Memorial reverse was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on December 20, 1958, first struck on January 2, 1959, and officially released to the public on February 12 - Lincoln's birthday.

Due to his main portrait on the obverse and the tiny Lincoln statue being depicted within Lincoln Memorial design (replicating the larger-than-life seated Lincoln sculpture in the actual Lincoln Memorial), Lincoln became the first person to be seen on both sides of the same circulating United States coin. Colorful trivia aside, the Lincoln Memorial reverse was originally panned by some critics, with numismatic observer Don Taxay even suggesting the Lincoln Memorial on the cent "looks at a glance more like a trolley car."

Yet, the design caught on with the public. Through the 1960s and '70s and on into the early '80s as billions of Lincoln Memorial Cents were struck, the preceding Lincoln Wheat Cents retired from circulation through age-related attrition and collector interest. Meanwhile, Lincoln Memorial Cents firmly established dominance in circulation and helped cement Gasparro's legacy in numismatic history.

Gasparro served as Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1965 through 1981 and during his decades-long tenure at the U.S. Mint also created the reverse for the Kennedy half dollar and handled design duties for the Eisenhower dollar and Susan B. Anthony dollar. He died in 2001 at the age of 92, incidentally the last year the Kennedy half dollar was struck for circulation but still several years before his Lincoln Memorial cent reverse was retired in 2008.

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