The United States Mint originally released a total of 18 different design candidates for the reverse of the 2010 Lincoln Cent. The designs included various views of the Capitol Building and various compositions of American flags, shields, and eagles. The final design featured a bundle of wheat stalks, designated as design LP-18.
The thirteen wheat stalks were intended to represent the thirteen original states of the United States. They were bound together in strength, with their unity creating a stronger bundle than any of the stalks individually. The design also paid homage to the original reverse design of the Lincoln Cent known as the “Wheat Ears” reverse, used from 1909 to 1958.
The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) was impressed with this design, which it said represented the unity of the nation and worked well for the scale of the penny. The CFA selected LP-18 as the official recommendation for the 2010 Lincoln Cent reverse design.
Following their design, it came to light that a very similar representation had been used on German coins circulating during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Bound wheat stalks had also been used as a symbol of socialism and communism on coins from other countries.
Shortly after the CFA meeting, LP-18 was removed from consideration by the United States Mint. In a statement released to the press, the Mint stated, “The United States Mint ultimately decided to remove design LP-18 from consideration after determining that it was inappropriately similar to a 1920s era German pfennig.” The US Mint further explained that Mint Director Edmund Moy wanted “American designs and icons of the nation’s coins, especially for circulating coins like the cent.”
In a subsequent meeting, the CFA endorsed LP-10, which displays a modernistic interpretation of a 34 star flag.