SPRINGFIELD'S SCULPTURES,            Carl and Roberta Volkmann
MONUMENTS, AND PLAQUES              cvolk@aol.com
Lincoln's Neighborhood
A bronze cast from the original plaster
submitted in 1909 to the U.S. mint for the
creation of the Lincoln penny is exhibited in
the Visitors Center of the Lincoln Home
National Historic Site. It was donated to the
National Park Service by Mr. and Mrs. Edgar
H. Hermmer in 1991.  Although Victor David
Brenner, the artist who designed the
Lincoln cent, produced many impressive
medals during his career, his name and
initials have become synonymous with the
1909 penny.
In 1908 the nation was preparing to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of
Lincoln’s birth the next year.  Brenner, a highly respected medalist, was creating
centennial plaques and medals with Lincoln’s portrait for the celebration.  In the
summer of that year President Teddy Roosevelt was posing for a Panama Canal
service medal for Brenner, and the two men discussed the idea of a coin honoring
Lincoln.  Roosevelt invited Brenner to submit a proposed design, and the coin quickly
became a reality.  The Brenner profile of Lincoln has been used on all cents issued
since 1909 making it the longest continual use of a portrait on any U.S. coin.
The first Lincoln pennies prominently displayed the initials of the artist at the base of
the reverse side.  Responding to public outcries that this was tasteless self-
advertisement, production was stopped. Only 484,000 coins had been created at the
San Francisco mint.  As a result, the Lincoln S-VDB penny is one of the rarest U.S.
coins.  Lincoln pennies with Brenner’s Lincoln portrait continued to be minted
without the offending initials.  Then in 1918 much smaller Brenner initials were
incorporated into the design at the base of Lincoln’s shoulder.