The first Lincoln cents went into circulation on this day in 1909 — they were issued in honor of the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth in 1809.
The Lincoln cent was the first regular U.S. coin to feature the image of an actual person, rather than an abstract personification of “Liberty” or something similar. And while past presidents have appeared on many U.S. coins since 1909, it is still federal law that no living person, president or otherwise, shall ever appear on circulating U.S. currency. Monarchies and dictatorships feature their rulers on coins, but the United States, as a republic, never has.
And did you know that there’s an original 1909 Lincoln penny on Mars? It’s true! It was sent there in 2012 with the Curiosity rover to serve as a familiar calibration target for the rover’s cameras. And from the way it looked, I’d say the cameras were working just fine. 📸
You and your students can find all sorts of additional information about the Lincoln Cent in its current form by going right to the source: the website of the U.S. Mint (usmint.gov.).
What numismatical discoveries have you made in your homeschool (or on other planets) this Hercules Term? 😊
❡ Explore more: The Mint has a remarkably comprehensive set of free lesson plans and games available on a wide range of topics for students of all ages — just the thing to get some educational treasure hunting under way! 🔎
❡ Homeschool history: For a quick illustrated review of the life of Abraham Lincoln, turn to page 316 in your River Houses history encyclopedia. 📚
❡ Make it a tradition: Why not pick up an old roll of circulated coins of any denomination at your local grocery store or bank each week and invite your students to go through it around the kitchen table. A whole world of historical and geographical discovery awaits them! 💰
❡ Cabinets of wonder: This is one of our occasional posts on the educational value of Collections & Collecting. Add your name to our weekly mailing list and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🗞