On more than one occasion I've either read or heard about how the 1959 Lincoln Memorial cent
was the first US coin to depict the same person on the obverse as well as reverse. Of course, in each case, the individual offering up the alleged nugget of trivia was obviously not familiar with the US commemorative coin series issued prior to 1959.
The first US coin to feature the same person of the obverse and reverse is the Lafayette Memorial silver dollar of 1900. The Lafayette dollar was sponsored by the Lafayette Memorial Commission (LM
C). The primary project of the L
MC was to create a fitting monument to General Lafayette and to then give it to the people of France during the Paris Exposition of 1900. The commemorative coin was used as a fund-raiser to support the costs associated with the monument; school children from around the US also raised funds for the statue, with almost $50,000 coming from their efforts.
On the coin's obverse is depicted the conjoined portraits of friends and fellow military leaders George Washington and Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. The reverse of the coin depicts a preliminary version of the equestrian statue of Lafayette created by Paul Wayland Bartlett that was erected in Paris by the LM
C. The coin was designed by Charles E. Barber
, the sixth Chief Engraver of the US Mint.
The second coin to feature the same individual on the obverse and reverse is also a one dollar coin, though this one is gold vs. silver. The 1916-17 McKinley Birthplace Memorial gold coins feature a portrait of McKinley on the obverse and a view of the Memorial Building on the reverse. In a similar fashion as how the statue of Abraham Lincoln can be seen through the columns of the Lincoln Memorial on the cent, a statue of William McKinley is visible though the center two columns of the Birthplace Memorial in Niles, OH. The statue is small, but it is visible and it's definitely McKinley! The coin's obverse was created by Charles Barber
, its reverse by George Morgan.
Next is the 1921 Missouri Statehood Centennial half dollar. On its obverse is seen a left-facing portrait of Daniel Boone. On the coin's reverse, a standing Boone is depicted speaking with a Native American chief, with the attention of both drawn to something out of sight to the viewer's left. The coin was designed by Robert Aitken, who also designed the 1915 Panama-Pacific $50 gold commemorative coins.
Similar to the 1921 Missouri, the commemorative half dollars struck from 1934 through 1938 to mark the bicentennial of Daniel Boone's birth feature the famous frontiersman on the obverse as well as reverse. On the obverse, Boone is depicted facing left. On the reverse, a standing Boone is shown in negotiation with Chief Black Fish. The two men are depicted discussing a potential peace treaty between the Shawnee (Black Fish was Shawnee) and the settlers prior to a Shawnee attack on Fort Boonesborough (seen in the background). Ultimately, the talks were unsuccessful, and the Shawnee laid siege to the fort for nine days; the Shawnee were unsuccessful, however, in winning the battle and left without further incident at Fort Boonesborough.
If you're willing to stretch to include a coin with an unnamed individual, the 1936 Elgin, IL Centennial half dollar also includes the same person on both sides of the coin. The coin's obverse presents a left-facing pioneer that is taken directly from the Pioneer Memorial statue that the coin's designer, Trygve Rovelstad. was also creating. The leftmost member of the pioneer group on the reverse is also the male whose portrait appears on the coin's obverse.
So, there you have at least four (and possibly five!) coins that feature the same person on both sides of a coin - all years ahead of Lincoln on the 1959-2008 Memorial cent
. The next time you're presented with the "two-sided appearance" trivia question, you'll be ready to educate those who answer with "1959 Lincoln Cent!"
For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, see: Read More: Commems Collection