It was 1905. American coins had been sporting the same designs for over 50 years, and President Roosevelt decided that it was time for a change. He wanted our nation to have coins comparable to those of the ancient Greeks.
Roosevelt initiated this effort by contacting sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign American coinage, resulting in the world-famous Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, as well as the 1907 Indian $10. Saint-Gaudens died in 1907, before he could design more coins, so the president had to find someone else to design a coin for the upcoming centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.
Roosevelt chose Victor David Brenner, an American sculptor, engraver, and numismatist. Brenner was a founder of the New York Numismatic Club, and had garnered a reputation producing medals, which were a popular collector’s item at the time.
In 1907, Brenner produced a medal of Lincoln, and a year later, discussed with Roosevelt the idea of using the design for a coin. The Indian Head cent had been in use since 1859 and was ripe for a change. Brenner worked on the Lincoln head for over a year, and on August 2, 1909, the Lincoln cent was circulated for the first time.
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