The 2010 Lincoln Cent represents the debut a brand new reverse design for the long running series. This marks the seventh reverse design used on the Lincoln Cent since its introduction in 1909.
The first design used from 1909 to 1958 featured a pair of wheat ears. The second design used from 1959 to 2008 featured a view of the Lincoln Memorial. The next four reverse designs were issued during 2009 to represent the different stages of Abraham Lincoln’s life. The design to be used from 2010 onwards features the Union Shield.
The Union Shield features thirteen vertical stripes joined by a single horizontal bar with the inscription “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, one). This symbolizes the original thirteen states joined together in a single union. A scroll appears across the shield with the denomination “One Cent” and “United States of America” appears above the shield.
The same legislation that had authorized the four different different designs issued for 2009 had also authorized the new reverse design for 2010. This final design is intended to be emblematic of President Lincoln’s preservation of the United States as a single and united country. The selection of the Union Shield design was officially announced by the US Mint on November 12, 2009.
Initially, there had been 18 design candidates considered for use on the 2010 Lincoln Cent. These designs incorporated one or more of the following elements: the United States Capitol building, the American Flag, a shield, an eagle, and bound wheat stalks.
Before the selection of the final design, these candidate designs were reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). The CFA initially chose the design featuring bound wheat stalks, but after this candidate was removed from consideration, they switched their recommendation to a modernistic 34 star flag. The CCAC backed the Union Shield design that was eventually selected by the Secretary of the Treasury.
View all 18 of the original 2010 Lincoln Penny design proposals.