The United States Mint has announced a new reverse (back side, or "tails", as opposed to the obverse, front side, or "heads") to the one cent coin for 2010. This will be the third time that a major change has been made to the reverse since 1909 when the first pennies were minted with a profile of President Abraham Lincoln on the obverse,* and this time they're going for a design which only misses being heraldry by "this much".
* Prior to 1909, pennies had the profile of an American Indian on the obverse (hence their being referred to as "Indian head pennies"). In 1909, the year of the centennial of his birth, a profile of Lincoln was placed on the obverse with a wreath of wheat on the reverse. In 1959, in the first change since 1909, the wheat design was replaced with a rendering of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. In 2009, a second change occurred during the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth when the Lincoln Memorial was replaced by one of four different scenes from Lincoln's life: a log cabin where he was born; a young Lincoln reading while sitting on a partially split log (from his nickname, "the Railsplitter"); as an adult, a standing Lincoln in front of the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois; and from his presidency, a view of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC with its then unfinished dome.
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