CCAC Considers Lincoln Designs
David Kranz September 26, 2007
Three of four design themes proposed for the reverse of 2009
Lincoln cents to honor Abraham Lincoln's life were recommended
by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee when it met Sept.
CCAC recommended designs to honor his humble beginnings,
formative years in Indiana and professional life in Illinois.
It did not endorse a design depicting Lincoln's presidency.
The four coins to be issued in 2009 celebrate a different
aspect of Lincoln's life and mark the bicentennial of his
birth. The CCAC hopes the U.S. Mint designers will go back
to the drawing board and present more designs to mark his
To honor Lincoln's birth and humble beginnings in Kentucky,
CCAC selected two designs of a log cabin symbolizing the place
of Lincoln's birth in 1809 (images 1-02 and 1-05). They differ
primarily in the location and size of the date 1809.
Among designs emblematic of his formative years in Indiana,
the citizens advisory group preferred views of a young Lincoln
taking notes as he reads a book. Of the two designs showing
this, the top pick showed a more straight-on view (2-06) rather
than a side view (2-07).
To celebrate Lincoln's professional life in Illinois, CCAC
picked a scene of him inside the Illinois legislature holding
a paper while standing by a table (3-08), a second choice
Lincoln holding a book while speaking (3-06).
CCAC members decided they could recommend none of the designs
in the group intended to honor Lincoln's Presidency in Washington,
The seven designs proposed for the fourth aspect included
four of the Capitol dome under construction, one view of a
carriage in front of the Lincoln cottage, one of the Soldiers
Home and a view of Lincoln standing in front of the cottage
with stovepipe hat and rolled-up document.
CCAC members felt that none of these concepts evoked correct
remembrance of President Lincoln during the Civil War years.
A key concern was that the public would not generally understand
what was meant by an image of the unfinished Capitol.
Lincoln had ordered work on the dome continue during the
war as a symbol that the Union would be preserved.
Historian and committee member John Alexander said it would
be a mistake not to associate Lincoln with the Civil War.
One concept mentioned was Lincoln visiting the troops, perhaps
showing tents or war-related items.
A different view, voiced by member Rita Laws, was that the
focus should be on the Emancipation Proclamation, depicting
Lincoln as the Great Emancipator rather than a military commander.
A vote taken on the issue showed an 8-2 preference for a
concept evoking Lincoln's role in the Civil War more overtly.
Less than a week prior, on Sept. 20, the Commission of Fine
Arts viewed the same 38 designs and made one recommendation
for each of the four cents.
The CFA picked the same design as the CCAC for the first
For the second design, CFA preferred an image of two hands
holding a document and a quill as the signature "A. Lincoln"
is signed (2-04).
For the third design, emblematic of Lincoln's professional
life, a view of Lincoln outside the Illinois legislature building
was recommended (3-02).
One of the views of the unfinished Capitol dome was preferred
for the fourth design (4-03).
While there is time for the Mint to submit further designs
for review, such is not required.
Yet to be heard from is the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial
Commission. The law authorizing the coin program, Public Law
109-145, requires that the ALBC be consulted regarding the
At some point the Mint director will send his final recommendations
to the Treasury secretary, who has the final say over the
The obverse of the 2009 cent will be the familiar profile
portrait of Lincoln by Victor David Brenner.
Each new design is to be released at the start of the calendar
quarter, in amounts considered appropriate by the secretary
of the Treasury.
In addition to circulating examples, numismatic examples
will be struck to the same relief and in the same alloy used
in 1909 for the first Lincoln cents. That alloy was 95 percent
copper and 5 percent bronze. Again, the Treasury secretary
is to set any mintage limits considered appropriate.
After 2009, the cent reverse is to "bear an image emblematic
of President Lincoln's preservation of the United States of
America as a single and united country," the law states.
A separate Lincoln commemorative silver dollar, maximum mintage
500,000 pieces, is also authorized for 2009, by Public Law