To: National Circuit
Contact: Mark W. Weller, Americans for Common Cents (www.pennies.org)
Legislation to Redesign Lincoln Penny Passes Senate; Creates Presidential $1 Coin Program Similar to 50 State Quarters Program
November 21 – The United States Senate passed bipartisan legislation on November 18 that would make historic redesign changes to the reverse side of the Lincoln penny that currently pictures the Lincoln Memorial. Senator John Sununu (R-New Hampshire) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) sponsored the “Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005” (S. 1047), which had the backing of more than 70 Senate cosponsors.
S. 1047 would direct the United States Mint to produce pennies in 2009, the 200th anniversary year of President Lincoln’s birth, that keep the portrait of Lincoln on one side and four designs representing a different aspect of his life on the reverse: his birth and early childhood in Kentucky; his formative years in Indiana; his professional life in Illinois; and his presidency in Washington.
The legislation by Senators Sununu and Reid combines the Lincoln penny redesign with provisions to create a presidential $1 coin series, modeled on the Mint’s widely popular 50 States Quarters Program. In addition to the presidential coins, the bill authorizes a $10 bullion coin with images of the nation’s first ladies. S. 1047 also stipulates that dollar coins bearing the image of Sacagawea, the early 19th century American Indian guide and interpreter of the Lewis and Clark expedition, will continue to be issued in conjunction with the presidential coins.
According to Mark Weller, the Executive Director of Americans for Common Cents, the passage of S. 1047 is highly noteworthy. “President Lincoln personifies what we want our Presidents to be,” Weller said. “A Lincoln penny series would dramatically highlight the important stages of Lincoln’s life, and his political and cultural significance to our nation,” Weller added.
According to the Americans for Common Cents research, an overwhelming majority of Americans â”€ approximately three-fourths â”€ support keeping the penny a part of America’s currency system. “The alternative to the penny is rounding prices, which is something consumers abhor,” Weller said. The House of Representatives passed similar, although not identical, legislation to S. 1047 in April of this year. Congress is expected to enact a final version of the legislation before the end of 2005.
Americans for Common Cents (http://www.pennies.org) is a broad-based advocacy group of business, charitable, and numismatic organizations. The group formed in 1990 in response to Congressional threats to eliminate the penny.