2009 Lincoln Penny Value and Designs

2009 was a peculiar year for coin collectors. During the bicentennial birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the US Mint released a commemorative penny — the Lincoln bicentennial penny to celebrate the late president’s 200th birthday.

The US Mint prepared four different reverse designs from different moments of Lincoln’s life, taking people to learn more about his birth and early childhood, professional life, and presidency years.

The obverse of the 2009 Lincoln penny, on the other hand, repeats the image of President Lincoln’s bust designed in 1909 by Victor D. Brenner.

Keep on reading to find out full details on the 2009 penny.

History of the 2009 Penny

Lincoln pennies were created for the centennial of Lincoln's birthday, replacing the Indian Head Cent in 1909. But for Lincoln's bicentennial, the US Mint prepared four redesigns to the reverse of the 2009 Lincoln coins.

These four different reverse designs on the 2009 penny represent Abraham Lincoln's life in some of its most important moments, depicting his birth and early childhood, formative years, professional life, and presidency.

The obverse design remained the one created by Victor David Brenner in 1909. The four reverse depictions were in the hands of Richard Masters, Charles Vickers, Joel Iskowitz, and Susan Gamble.

The Bicentennial commemorative designs also meant the ending of the Lincoln Memorial design that had been used since 1959. In 2010, the Lincoln cent's reverse was replaced by a new Union Shield design with the motto "E Pluribus Unum."

Features of the 2009 Penny

Besides the four designs for the reverse, the Lincoln cent received three different finishes. One of them, intended for commercial circulation, has a copper-plated zinc composition (97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper). The other two, a proof version with ultra cameo effect and a special strike with a satin finish for a collector’s set are 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc — the same composition as the 1909 coin.

The proof coins were only available in the 2009 Proof Set, made at the San Francisco Mint, whereas the collector's set with the satin finish was sold separately to the public.

The copper Lincoln cent weighs 3.11 grams (like the original coin in use from 1909 to 1982), and the zinc coin weighs 2,5 grams.

The Obverse of the 2009 Penny

For the Lincoln bicentennial, the obverse side of the 2009 Lincoln coin was kept like the one-cent coins from 1909, where it's possible to see Lincoln’s profile picture. Above it, there is the motto "In God we trust," the word "Liberty" on the left, and the year of mintage on the lower right. Usually, below the year, there can be a mint mark showing where the coin was produced. The ones minted in the Philadelphia Mint bear no mint mark, but the ones originally from the Denver Mint will have a “D” imprinted below the year.

The Reverse of the 2009 Lincoln Penny

The reverse of the 2009 Lincoln coin plays the most important part in the Lincoln bicentennial celebration. The penny design portrays four milestones of Lincoln's life.

The reverse of the first coin is a celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birth in Kentucky, showing a log cabin where Lincoln spent his early childhood. 

The second one represents his formative years in Indiana. It shows Lincoln sitting in a log reading.

The third reverse design depicts his professional life in Illinois with Lincoln in front of the Illinois capitol building; the capitol is a reference to his practice as a lawyer and his interest in politics.

Finally, the last design shows his presidency years, with the image of the capitol in construction in DC.

All four designs have the same inscriptions: the name of the country on top, "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA", the face value "ONE CENT" and the motto "E Pluribus Unum."

Early Life

Early Life 2009 Bicentennial PennySource

The first one, "Early Life", also known as "early childhood coin," portrays a log cabin.

The log cabin is shown as a symbol of Lincoln's very humble beginnings in Kentucky. Lincoln's birth happened in 1809 in LaRue County, Kentucky.

Formative Years

Formative Years 2009 Bicentennial PennySource

From this poor childhood in Kentucky, Lincoln advances to his adulthood in Indiana, and this is the second of the reverse designs — Formative years. In this design, Lincoln is portrayed as a young man sitting on a log and reading a book, taking a break from his work as a rail splitter. This is a direct reference to his hard work and self-education coming from an unprivileged background. Lincoln was in Indiana from 1816 to 1830.

Professional life

Professional Life 2009 Bicentennial PennySource

After the passage in Indiana, the third design, made by Joel Iskowitz, is the Professional Life 2009 Lincoln coin. Here, we can see Lincoln in front of the Illinois state capitol building. The idea for this coin is to portray Lincoln's professional life as a lawyer and a politician since it was after moving to Illinois that he started his career and took an interest in politics.

It was also in the Illinois State House where Lincoln gave his House Divided speech, a turning point in his political career.

Lincoln lived in New Salem, Illinois, for six years.


Presidency 2009 Bicentennial PennySource

After the portrait of Lincoln's professional life in Illinois, the final design of the reverse is called "Presidency," showing a historically accurate depiction of the United States capitol dome under construction in Washington, DC, as it appeared during Linconl's first inauguration as president.

Lincoln was a president from 1861 to 1865, facing many challenges concerning the Civil War and the end of slavery.

The use of the capitol dome still being built was somewhat controversial, but the intention was to depict Lincoln's challenges while president in Washington, DC.

As it is well-known, his presidency and life would sadly end with his assassination on April 15, 1865, at the hands of actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth.

2009 Penny - Coloration

For coin collections, the coin's condition is extremely important. And for copper coins, a key factor in determining a coin’s condition is its coloration. Copper coins, once they've just come out of the mint, have a very vivid red luster. But after being handled and getting in contact with air, they tend to become browner.

Therefore, copper coins can be graded into “B” for "brown," “RB” for "red-brown," or “R” for "red." Coins designated as "R" are the ones in better condition.

In other words, coins considered “Red-brown” will get better prices than “Brown” coins, and “Red” coins will get the best prices. The 2009 Lincoln coins will mostly be worth only their face value if graded “Brown” or “Red Brown.” If in uncirculated condition, still bearing their bright red luster, they will be better graded and, therefore, more valuable to a collector.

The Value of a 2009 Lincoln Penny

Because 2009 Lincoln Pennies are made from a base metal alloy rather than a precious metal like gold, their value derives directly from their collectible appeal.

Therefore, one of the most important criteria to determine a 2009 Lincoln Penny value is to assess its condition on the Sheldon scale, a grading system that goes from 0 to 70. The higher the grade, the more valuable the penny will be. Coins in circulated condition will most likely not be worth more than their denomination.

Coins from MS60 and above are usually in mint condition with higher collectible value. In the case of Lincoln bicentennial coins, we have the best coins from MS63 to MS68.

The value varies from $7 up to $6000.

Because of its high mintage number, below MS63, the one-cent coins are very common and usually not worth more than their face value.

Finally, each reverse was released on a different day throughout the year 2009. The Early Childhood reverse was released on February 12, Lincoln’s 200th birthday, during a commemorative ceremony at LaRue County High School, in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln’s birthplace. The “Formative Years” coins were released on May 14. The “Professional Life” in Illinois came out on August 13. And the “Presidency” coins were released to the public on November 12. Coins from the First Day of Issue have an added collectible value and are slightly more expensive than their counterparts.

2009 Penny Errors

Another factor that might influence these coins' value is the presence of a mint error. Because those coins were very abundant in production, mint errors set some specimens apart as they are very rare.

Errors are usually something bad. But, when it comes to coin collecting, penny errors can be extremely valuable. Some errors imprint specific characteristics in the collection piece, and rare errors will make some coins extremely valuable for their uniqueness.

A mint error that has been noticed exclusively on the “Formative Years” reverse design and only from coins minted in Philadelphia is called a double die error. That happens due to a mishap in the hubbing process and causes some deformations in the design. In the case of the 2009 Penny, some coins show a very noticeable deformation on Lincoln’s hands.

2009 Lincoln Penny Price Chart

Below, you will find a price chart for the 2009 Lincoln Penny and all its variations. We split the chart into three sections: the first for regular strikes, the second for proof coins, and the last for special strikes with a satin finish.

Regular Strikes






2009 Lincoln-Early Childhood




2009-D Lincoln-Early Childhood




2009 Lincoln-Formative Years




2009-D Lincoln-Formative Years




2009 Lincoln-Professional




2009-D Lincoln-Professional




2009 Lincoln-Presidency




2009-D Lincoln-Presidency





Proof - Deep Cameo






2009-S Lincoln-Early Childhood




2009-S Lincoln-Formative Years




2009-S Lincoln-Professional




2009-S Lincoln-Presidency





Special Strikes - Satin Finish






2009 Lincoln-Early Childhood Satin Finish




2009-D Lincoln-Early Childhood Satin Finish




2009 Lincoln-Formative Years Satin Finish




2009-D Lincoln-Formative Years Satin Finish




2009 Lincoln-Professional Satin Finish




2009-D Lincoln-Professional Satin Finish




2009 Lincoln-Presidency Satin Finish




2009-D Lincoln-Presidency Satin Finish






How much is a 2009 log cabin penny worth?

The Early Childhood penny (log cabin penny) is worth from $7 to $850. That will depend on the coin’s condition.

What are the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Penny designs?

The reverse of the 2009 Lincoln pennies has four different designs: Birth and Early Childhood, Formative Years, Professional Life, and Presidency.

How many 2009 pennies were made of each design at each mint?

The four Lincoln cent designs were made in Philadelphia and Denver Mint. In Philadelphia, the total mintage of the Early Childhood coins was 284,400,000; Formative years, 376,000,000; Formative years, 316,000,000; and Presidency, 129,600,000. The same penny designs for Denver were 350,400,000 for the Early Childhood coin; 363,600,000 for the Formative Years; 336,000,000 for Professional Life; and 198,000,000 for Presidency.

How do I know the quality of my 2009 D Penny?

To check the quality of a 2009 D penny, one should get it graded by a professional coin grading company, such as PCGS or NGC.

Which 2009 pennies are copper?

The Lincoln cent received three kinds of finishes. One has a satin finish for a collector set with 95% copper and 5% zinc — the same composition as the 1909 coin. The same goes for proof coins with deep cameo effects. The regular strikes are 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.

Why is the 2009 penny rare?

Due to its four different designs of the coin's reverse and a lot of detail in the making, some versions of the 2009 penny in celebration of Lincoln's bicentennial became rare.

What is the most valuable penny?

The 1943 Copper Penny is one of the most valuable pennies there is. One variation from the Denver Mint is unique and can be worth over $1,000,000!

How much is a 2009 D penny worth?

A 2009 D penny may cost from $5 to $3500 depending on its quality, conservation, or if it has any unusual errors. The "D" indicates the penny comes from Denver. Philadelphia pennies have no marks on the reverse.

← Previous Next →
Mo Menezes
Mo Menezes
Researcher and Contributor

Murilo (Mo) Menezes is an attorney and tenured English professor. His passion for economics and coinage led him to the gold and silver industry where he writes in-depth articles about collectible coins; as well as coin news and investing articles...