New Lincoln penny designs unveiled

In the first change in 50 years, the penny will have four new designs, each depicting different stages of Lincoln's life.

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The last of the commemorative Lincoln pennies to be released will show the half-finished U.S. Capitol dome, a symbol of his effort to preserve the union.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- For the first time in 50 years, the penny is getting redesigned, with four versions coming next year to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, the U.S. Mint announced Monday.

While the coin will continue to depict Lincoln's likeness on the front, the reverse side will bear one of four new designs, the Mint said.

The designs show milestones in the life of the 16th president: the Kentucky log cabin of his birth, his youth working as an Indiana rail splitter, his service at the State Capitol in Illinois, and his effort to preserve the union during the Civil War as depicted by a half-finished image of the U.S. Capitol dome.

The first of the coins debuts Feb. 12, with the others following in three-month intervals. The release date, besides being Lincoln's birthday, comes a century after the production of the original Lincoln cent in 1909.

The Lincoln cent was the first circulating coin to feature a person's likeness, and also the first to depict a U.S. president.

A Lincoln commemorative silver dollar will also be released in 2009.

"These coins are a tribute to one of our greatest presidents...he believed all men were created equal, and his life was a model for accomplishing through honesty, integrity, loyalty and a lifetime of education," said U.S. Mint director Ed Moy.  To top of page

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