2009 Lincoln Rail Splitter Penny

2009 Lincoln Rail Splitter Penny - Click to Enlarge

2009 Lincoln Rail Splitter Penny - Click to Enlarge

The 2009 Lincoln Rail Splitter Penny was launched by the United States on May 14, 2009 at the Lincoln Amphitheatre in scenic Lincoln State Park, Indiana.

It is the second of four redesigned 2009 Lincoln Cents to feature new designs celebrating the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. The second cent depicts Lincoln reading a book as he takes a break from rail-splitting.

The Rail Splitter penny is more formally known as the 2009 Lincoln Cent Formative Years in Indiana. US Mint Director Ed Moy described the reason best during the launch of the coin.

"This second design reflects the formative years of Abraham Lincoln's life in Indiana, when he developed the qualities that served as the foundation for his extraordinary life," Moy said.

Lincoln and his family moved to Indiana where he grew up learning a good work ethic. Lincoln became skilled at using a plow and, especially, an axe. His parents, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, instilled in him a love for learning and books, which took the place of a formal education while living a frontier life. By age 11, Lincoln read books such as "Life of Washington," "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin," "Robinson Crusoe and The Arabian Nights."

Through his life, Lincoln would go on to hold several jobs as well as political posts, and would finally become the 16th President of the United States. He died in the service of his country when he was assassinated a few days after the end of the Civil War.

The second penny follows the 2009 Lincoln Cent Birthplace, or the Log Cabin, coin which was issued on February 12, 2009 -- the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

The Birthplace coin marked the first time the cent has been changed in 50 years. In 1959, an image of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. was featured on the reverse and it remained that way until 2009. The first Lincoln cent was issued in 1909 to celebrate the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. It is commonly known as the "wheat penny," since it depicts two cheaves of wheat on the reverse (tails side).

The obverse (heads side) is nearly identical to the very first cent launched in 1909. It features a portrait of Abraham Lincoln facing to the right. It was designed by Victor D. Brenner.

Lincoln Rail Splitter Penny Rolls

Like the Log Cabins, the Rail Splitters are extremely popular with the public. Although the US Mint produced hundreds of millions of each, finding the new coins in circulation has been a difficult task. The Mint, therefore, began offering two-rolls containing $1 worth of equally divided Philadelphia and Denver pennies for $8.95.

Between May 14 and May 17, the Mint sold 200,055 of the sets, or more than 20 million pennies. The Mint eventually stopped selling them when 300,000 sets were purchased.

The US Mint also has several other products that include collector versions of the new cents. Unlike the circulating varieties as depicted in the image above and the coin specifications below, these are struck in a bronze alloy matching the original 1909 Lincoln cent -- 95% copper, 3% zinc and 2% tin.

2009 Lincoln Cent Design Themes

The reverse designs represent the four major aspects of Abraham Lincoln's life, represented by the following pennies or designs:

  • Log Cabin Penny
    Birth and early childhood in Kentucky (1809-1816): Lincoln was born in a log cabin, and this new coin with a cabin design is meant to signify the humble beginnings experienced by the 16th President of the United States.

  • Rail Splitter Penny
    Lincoln's Formative Years in Indiana (1816-1830)

  • Professional Life Penny
    Lincoln's Professional Life in Illinois (1830-1861): Shows an image of Lincoln in front of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. It was here he became a lawyer and first ventured into politics.

  • Presidency Penny
    Lincoln's Presidency in Washington, DC (1861-1865): Features a half-completed U.S. Capitol dome, as it appeared during Lincoln’s Presidency.

Lincoln Formative Years Coin Specifications

Mintmark: D (Philadelphia strikes have none)
Finish/Condition: Circulated
Composition: 2.5% Copper, 97.5% Zinc
Weight: 2.500 grams nominal
Diameter: 0.750 inches or 19.05 mm
Edge: Plain
Date of Issue: 14 May 2009
Mintages: 363,600,000 D; 376,000,000 P
Obverse Designer/Sculptor: Victor D. Brenner
Reverse Designer/Sculptor: Charles Vickers

Penny Resources