A new back for the penny


The US Mint has revealed a new design for the 2010 penny. Lincoln in still on the front, but this is the new back. And here I was just having a conversation last night about why we still have the penny at all.


  1. I prefer Captain America’s modern shield much more. And it’s round to boot. It would have been a much better fit.

    1. Actually this new design is very close to Capt. America’s original shield. Only difference is the Captain’s had stars running along the top.

    1. Only the circulating currency is really all that ugly. They make use of a lot of the art deco designs from the early 20th century that are some of the most beautiful coins ever minted. They just need to bring back the Standing Liberty quarter. Well, maybe not the original run, can’t have a bare boob on your money, we went through covering that up with chain mail once already.

    2. Amen. The design is hideous. But I’d expect nothing else from an organization that gave us the vile new designs on the bills.

  2. They gotta stop changing our money so often. It’s too damn confusing, I don’t even know which weird looking nickles are real anymore.

    1. Frankly they need to throw out the current money entirely and pattern it after the British money. It was designed so that blind people and illiterate people could know what coin or bill was in their hands. Bills are different sizes and colors. Coins have different sizes, thicknesses and edges for the same reason.

  3. They should have put a star in the center of the shield. It would have been more “Captain America-like”. Overall, not bad. Glad they’re keeping Honest Abe.

  4. Gutierrez nailed it. this is like an Marvel comic version of the back of the penny.

    is the a (TM) at the bottom right?!? No, it’s three characters I believe.. initials of the designer? I’m pretty sure I’d make up a random three letter combination if it were mine.

  5. The only thing they should have done with the penny is stop making it.

    Seriously, it’s just stubbornness at this point.

    “No guys, really, inflation is going to reverse! Someday the penny will be able to buy you a candy bar again!”

    1. That wasn’t Abe in there. It was a reptoid.

      It will be back on the Five Amero coin.

      @ethancoop: “Why go through all the trouble to change it? Makes no sense to me.”

      They’re trying to deter counterfeiters, duh!

    2. Yeah. Finding Abe’s statue on the back (which is mostly visible only on nearly-new pennies) was one of my first clues as a child that secrets are everywhere.

  6. Mark makes an excellent point.

    But imagine getting Charles Spencer Anderson to do up all our coinage in the Bonehead style!

    1. I agree. What problem is the government trying to solve with this new back? It is completely unnecessary. It’s a waste of time and money to change it. The government should be looking for ways to pinch pennies not change them.

  7. A quick check of an inflation calculator reveals that $0.01 in 1800 would equal $0.12 in today’s money. By that measure, we could dispense with the penny _and_ nickel and still be able to divide currency into smaller real denominations than we did 200 years ago.

  8. Yuck! Another icon of the location of protest marches and rallies against authoritarian excess erased from the collective consciousness. Our “freedom” isn’t worth a cent. I’d rather see the back remain, and MLK split the “Headline” with old Abe every other year. What do you think?

  9. First the diseased-looking bills, and now this? What sort of mad design-by-committee processes must have taken root at the Mint?

  10. They gotta stop changing our money so often. It’s too damn confusing, I don’t even know which weird looking nickles are real anymore.

    Who’d want to spend the time and money to counterfeit a nickel?

    And even if such a person existed, it’s likely that the nickels they produced would be worth more than a nickel to a collector.

  11. The shield quite frankly bothers me as it says quietly in the back of our minds that we are moving to a much more authoritarian state. Its a small symbol but one we see all the time and its a tiny piece of a bigger psychological attack on our subconscious .

    Thats just my view of it though.

    1. That shield, in one form or another, has been on US coins for almost 200 years. Normally it showed up strapped to an eagle or filling the gap at the top of a wreath. If that’s the meaning behind it they had to have built a time machine and planted the idea in the mint engravers in the 1820s or before. Then again, if you listen to the tinfoil hat types long enough, the conspiracy started an awful long time ago. :)

      The only real difference is the motto on the crown instead of horizontal bars.

      1. The design elements that are emphasized really do have an effect. Look at it this way: The phrase “In God We Trust” has also been on a lot of money, but imagine if the new penny back consisted of just one large word “God.” Would that be an innocent design decision, or could it be making a statement about the psychology of those producing it?

        From that light, perhaps it’s a little easier to understand why this makes some people uncomfortable.

        That, and it’s just damn ugly. Same deal with modern stamps. Stamps used to be beautiful, miniature documents. Now they’re just silly stickers, no better than the ones that little kids play with.

        1. That’s not really a reasonable comparison. Looking even further into it the federal shield has been on a large amount of coins since they replaced the mangy looking eagle from the original dollar coin design in 1798. It is in no way similar to bastardizing an existing motto. You have to completely ignore all context to take it as a sign that the government is just using it to taunt us about the fact that they are just that totalitarian.

          (OMG HITLER) It doesn’t bother me to see a swastika on a buddhist temple.

    2. Thac0: The stripes in the shield represent the six leather straps that Bush and Cheney used to tie down terrorists for questioning. Four for the wrists and ankles, one over the mouth and you can guess where #6 went. But it’s an homage, you see, not necessarily a portent.

    3. Ya Thac0, I had that same eerie feeling when I first saw it, but you explained that feeling quite well. I wish more people could see this coming !sp

  12. The penny exist for one reason alone, sales tax. Other reasons are peripheral. Pennies make the calculation and collection of sales tax much easier.

  13. I’m assuming our great government shelled out a lot of money having this designed, approved, implemented, etc. Fantastic. Hopefully they paid the designer his fee all in sacks of the old pennies.

  14. I like it. I never cared for the Lincoln Memorial; as a child, I always thought it was a poorly rendered trolley. This is nice- bold, simple, clear. Everything currency designs should be.

  15. it just blows me away the frivolous shit our government does. fiddling while Rome burns.

    i find my reaction to this sort of unnecessary bullcrap is similar to seeing a multimillion dollar church erected that then proceeds to solicit donations to help feed the poor.

  16. Finally Abe is put in his place! As far as I know he’s the only U.S. President who ever tried to hog both sides of the currency. He still has the fiver though…

  17. Maggie, we still have the penny because copper washers cost more than a penny each. I can make a whole stack on my drill press at once and save a bundle!

    Well, anyway, that’s why I’m in favor of pennies. They are quite useful.

  18. Obviously the reason we still have the penny is to provide jobs at the US Mint. And the reason we have this re-design is to provide more jobs! Think of how many people were likely involved in this redesign: several artists of course, to sketch up preliminary designs, a committee to select which design to use, and provide feedback to the artists, engravers to test-mint a few samples, more engravers to make all the stamps for doing the full year’s minting, plus the building and maintenance staff to support all those people.

    Seriously, I can’t think of a good reason that the mint made this change other than to justify continued employment of a number of people who can point at this to prove that they were working. It’s not to stop counterfeiting. It’s not to help blind people. It’s not to reduce penny production cost (which when metal values spiked, was over 1 cent). Anyone have a *good* reason to make this change?

    1. In God we Trust is still on the front. Sorry.

      I wonder if the new design is part of the fight against people smelting pennies for the more-valuable-than-the-penny copper (old pennies, at least)

  19. In defense of the penny… They are magic. If you find one, it brings you luck. You can also buy wishes with them if you throw them into a fountain.

  20. Look at your money: I just checked mine and found 2 different 2009 pennies, neither with the shield. One looks like the Capital building under construction, the other (I’m guessing) Thomas Jefferson showing off his own memorial? Anyway as a coin guy I guess some change (heh) is OK (though I prefer the Lincoln Memorial or the old double palm frond) . . .and as to ‘they’re trying to defer counterfeiters. . .’: Huh? Are you mad sir? Counterfeit a PENNY???

  21. More proof for my theory that the mint is staffed by 15 year olds with macintosh computers. How soon can we buy these on etsy with pins on the lincoln-side so that we can pin them to our shirts?

  22. Varying the designs has gotten a lot more people hooked on numismatism, so I can’t blame them for mucking with the penny too. I’m not wild about this design — I too liked the fine detail on the Lincoln Memorial design — but really, pennies should have wheat sheaves on their backs so this is not really that much worse.

    Pennies do still have their uses. On the other hand, the penny is the one piece of American currency that is worth less than it costs to produce. So I’m not really convinced it’s worth retaining much longer. Vending machines don’t take pennies anyway, and they’re the real arbiters of what’s useful as pocket change.

    My own pet peeve: Get rid of the dollar bill. We’ll never switch to dollar coins while there’s a lighter-weight, folding alternative… and I happen to _like_ dollar coins.

  23. I’m with technogeek. The dollar bill is pointless. Paper money lasts a much shorter time than coinage does.

  24. Obviously, we need pennies to provide grist for the squashed-penny souvenir machines at various national parks and landmarks. You can’t run that stuff on nickels.

  25. Pennies have always seemed pretty pointless whenever I’ve been to the US – they’re practically worthless, unwanted weight in your pocket. New Zealand got rid of 1 and 2c, must be 20 years ago now, and dropped 5c a few years back.

  26. So you can’t melt down pennies (its the law!). But can you melt down pennies that you turned into souvineers in a machine?

    Hmmm…I smell a loophole!

  27. Maybe to you rich boys and girls a penny is nothing. But I can pick up a penny from the street in less time than I can earn one at minimum wage. Why don’t you penny haters round every single price up to the nearest nickel as well as the total and pay that amount to your retailer rather than the lower total based on prices that include cents. Also whenever you get a penny just drop it on the ground for someone who knows what they are worth to pick it up.

    1. I agree. I save pennies and end up with a decent couple of dollars every few months, with very little effort.

      Also, pennies mean that I can pay for things in cash and not have to round up (cause you know they aren’t going to round down for you) to the nearest 5 when prices are odd.

      Imagine it: That will be $2.58 if you are paying with plastic, but $2.60 for all you suckers with cash!

      1. And just imagine the extra expense of having to use nickels to cover the eyes of your dead! That’s an extra 8 cents per funeral, pal.

  28. Here’s another penny for your thoughts:

    PS: I like this design: IMO it has a cool “retro” look. “Retro” as in “a 19th-Century NYC style” – kinda like the look and style of that big ol’ Statue of Liberty.

  29. We do we still have the penny? Because our economy is deflating and when all is said and done, the penny is gonna be worth something again. Better keep your pennies, kiddos!

  30. Good idea Glaborous, but I think that most of those machines cost money to use as well, on the order of 25 cents to a dollar. One penny of copper may be worth more than a cent, but I doubt it’s that much more.

  31. i read an article a few years ago that they kept the penny (even though it costs 1.3 cents to mint) because they were afraid that rounding would confuse people.

    i was living in australia at the time. they don’t have ‘pennies’, and people handle the rounding just fine.

    good thing we still use the imperial system of measurement, too.

  32. I can’t stand the new coin designs. I liked the front of the Sacagewa dollar, but never understood why they changed the reverse design so it no longer showed the Apollo 11 seal (like it did on the Eisenhower and Susan B. Anthony dollars). The later Sac. dollar reverse was not as nice. The new “presidential” dollars are ugly on the obverse and silly on the reverse. The new nickels are silly on the obverse (I don’t think the reverse has changed, except for the special issue for the Lewis & Clark bicentennial). And this design for the reverse of the penny … uck. I’ve seen video game arcade coins with more sincerity.

  33. Ah, a year late but still close to the tradition of a resdesign every 50 years. It’s, okay. Not as nice as the Shield Nickel. OTOH it sure beats the change to Washington hair on the quarter back in the 90s.

    Pedantry Warning! It’s called a “cent”. The English have “pennies”.

    1. Pedantry Warning! It’s called a “cent”. The English have “pennies”.

      A “cent” is a measure of monetary value equal to 1/100 of a dollar. The “penny” is our nickname for the one-cent coin, just like the Canadians call their one-dollar coin a “loonie.”

  34. Australia killed off their penny long ago. New Zealand killed their penny and five cent piece. There is no reason for U.S. or Canada to have a penny, any longer. And the U.S. should also go to $1 coins, and even $5 could become a coin.

    But, just imagine the field day Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Sarah Palin would have if these changes were announced!

  35. We should quit using pennies in these tough economic times!
    Frugal shoppers with careful totals (ending in 2s or 7s) can save 2 cents per purchase after rounding down, subsidized by the well off/haphazard total-ers.

  36. You’re fucking with the nickels
    You’re fucking with the dimes
    You’re fucking with the pennies
    It’s a fucking waste of time
    I ain’t a fucking numismatist

  37. Classical look there. Mighty early 20th century.

    The last 10 years have been a treasure trove for collectors.

    All those years, nothing new since the 1976 bicentennials, the Susan B. Anthony..

    Then those state quarters started the flood. Must have been the due to the influence of Big Nunismatic’s lobbyists..

    Is the dime still safe?

    1. I only use cash. I detest all of you in front of me buying a turkey sandwich with a debit card. But it’s a loving detestation.

      1. My debit card transactions are faster than most people’s cash transactions. But then, I live in a retirement area where people pay for their groceries with small change.

      2. Teller – “I only use cash. I detest all of you in front of me buying a turkey sandwich with a debit card. But it’s a loving detestation”

        That’s why we’re in front of you…you use dirty, filthy, drug-infected cash; and we want a clean turkey sandwich before the cashier touches your cash. Our detestation of your germs is not loving, either. :0

    2. Using cash instead of plastic is a basic method of frugality. But if you don’t want to think about the time wasted to earn money wasted then plastic is the way to go.

  38. Is anyone else surprised that the faces are on the front of the penny? I have ALWAYS thought that heads was the back of the coin, not the front.

    I’m Canadian, though.

  39. Pennies. Why DO they still exist? Functionally worthless. Just round everything off to the nearest nickel, and be done with it.

    1. Because then Nickels will effectively be pennies, and everything will be 5% more expensive…

      You rounder-uppers are truly doofuses!

  40. The proportions and the contrasts between the fonts are really awkward. I suppose one way to see that is sort of endearingly comic-book retro. But i see it as looking more like a cheap token. Do not like.


  41. Pennies are extremely valuable in aggregate. If I gave you the option to earn one penny off the sales price of every item sold in every Walmart, would you take it?

    So no, to an individual, pennies are not that useful. But to corporations and governments they very important.

    1. If I gave you the option to earn one penny off the sales price of every item sold in every Walmart, would you take it?

      You confuse “penny” (a near-worthless coin) with “cent” (a small unit of currency). Corporations and governments love aggregating large amounts of income through small individual sums, but they HATE dealing with pennies. Hell, most vending machines don’t even accept the damn things.

      If you had the option to be paid in pennies versus some other form of currency, would you take it?

  42. Scrap Lincoln. Put a squirrel on the front, and a nut on the back. (Due to the way people with pennies act like squirrels hoarding nuts.)

  43. why have pennies?
    to make batteries with.
    stack nickels and pennies, separated by squares of paper towel moistened with a saturated solution of NaCl, wire each end of stack to an LED. Each nickle/penny pair should supply aprox. 0.5v {stack 6 pair for a white LED} seal up with your roll of duct tape. The resulting flashlight should work for about 5 hours.

  44. Copper coins are cool. Sometimes copper pence coins are worth twice US cent coins, and still the UK keeps pressing them. Although, after being away from America for ten years I was heartily disappointed to discover that, alas, “greenbacks” no longer were…

    1. Although, after being away from America for ten years I was heartily disappointed to discover that, alas, “greenbacks” no longer were…

      I never really understood why most Americans like our money to look like it was designed and printed 150 years ago. Most of our denominations only feature political figures and monuments from the era of slavery, and God forbid we introduce any color to the some of the most easily-forged currency in the world. Just putting a slightly different illustration of Ben Franklin on the $100 is enough to raise a lot of hackles.

  45. I think it’s boring. The US Mint needs to hire some steampunkers already!

    But it isn’t the penny that needs to be discontinued, it’s the paper dollar bill. It’s pointless and expensive.

    I love the barber dimes myself.

  46. Man, that’s unattractive. I’d like to second (possible third) the motion to return the wheat penny to circulation. And the buffalo nickel. And the walking liberty half-dollar.

    Those old coin designs had so much more flair. The new coin designs are cheesy.

  47. The only reason we still have pennies is to complete an accurate decimal in the hundredths place in our base ten system of currency. We wouldn’t need to do this if we switched over to a base 12 or base 16 system.

  48. If you don’t like the new Captain America shield on the back of the penny, you should be glad that they scrapped the idea of having Abe Lincoln in a Captain America costume on the front. Although I think that would kick ass.

  49. I will not be satisfied until the mint issues a coin equal to $0.6180339887…

    Better make that sucker out of 1/gold.

  50. The worst part is that you’re not even going to be able to get these pennies directly from the government. Yes, you’re going to need an agent for change.


  51. What I’d like about now is a disk-shaped 5 gram slug of nickel with a picture of a slug on it. Any makers?

  52. The design change likely happened way before the current financial problems.

    I don’t mind this new penny reminds me of some of the really old 1800’s ones. I just wish it had more detail going on in it.

  53. I’m not sure where you guys got your lame-ass inflation numbers, but according to my father-in-law, a penny in 1800 had the approximate purchasing power of $1 million today. Maybe more, if you had first blessed it by carefully hoarding it for years in a pouch made of moleskin, waiting for the right time to spend it… probably to purchase a house, wife, and two horses.

  54. Regarding Kerouac’s comment (115), the best published work on the subject of buying power is McCusker “How Much is That in Real Money?: A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the
    Economy of the United States.” Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1992. This uses multiple price indices. Unfortunately, though I own two copies I can find neither to consult, so failing that see


    This indicates that the factor is, very approximately, 12 i.e. one dollar in 1800 is worth twelve today. Other calculators (with different assumptions) give values as high as 17.

    As one example, one cent would purchase a child’s chapbook in wrappers in 1800, but serious works bound in boards would be a dollar even then…

    1. Oops–should have written “the buying power of one dollar in 1800 is equal to twelve today.” Apologies!

  55. No money for healthcare or education, but we have the scratch to design and produce multiple penny designs! Typical government priorities at work here!

  56. Depressing fact about our government:
    The penny still exists for three reasons:
    1) Government inertia (because you need to spend Political Capital(tm) to get even the most common-sense things accomplished)
    2) Free advertising for Illinois tourist industry
    3) Paranoid schizophrenia coupled with nationalism has become an integral part of one political party. An attack on Lincoln is an attack on all of us. So say we all.

    1. The penny still exists to keep us from getting another hidden tax. If you eliminate it, States and Cities who have sales taxes will have to round up the tax to the Nickle… No Thanks..Keep the Penny.

  57. I don’t care for the new back of the penny. Here is one of my reasons. The reverse side of the penny was changed in 1902 to the Lincoln Memorial, a symbol of freedom. Lincoln was the president that held the nation together and became the emancipator of oppressed peoples throughout the nation. Now we have a symbol of military prowess and bondage. The symbol of a conquering nation imposing it’s regime on the captured masses.

  58. I have a penny (2009) showing Lincoln on the reverse side He is sitting on a log, reading a book.
    Is this real or fake?

  59. I should have done some research first. The Lincoln penny with Lincoln on the reverse, sitting on a log, is one of four new reverse designs for 2009

  60. At first I thought my son had slipped Chucky Cheese tokens into the change jar. WTF? Then I flipped it over, saw Abe, and my heart sank. Even our money is so cheap it looks like it was made in China now.

    A few years ago I heard the gubmit was looking into doing away with the penny, and I thought it a good idea. Now I wonder why they did’nt.

  61. its sooooooooooooooooooooo cool i cant stand the way people get mad at the fact that they made a new penny.. pennys RULE…


  62. I just received my first 2010 penny in change. It seems to be lighter in weight than earlier mintings but it might be my imagination–almost as if it’s alloyed. It still tastes like a penny, though.

  63. Pennies haven’t been 100% copper since 1857..they are now 97.5% zinc and 2.5 % copper plated. I hate the new shield on the back. The top of the shield represents the government..which is bigger than ever before..hm….I guess that makes sense however.

  64. It seems to make sense that the shield is that of God’s Armor and protection, because of the words “In God We Trust” on the front. They go together, hand in hand!

  65. Pennies are a bad joke on everyone who has to look at what’s left in their pocket the day after payday. It sure is nice that we don’t have to worry about stupid stuff like hunger and homelessness and we can get down to the fun stuff like spending untold millions (conservatively)on prettying up our coins.

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