Friday, February 13, 2009

Incongruous Thoughts on Lincoln

Yesterday was Lincoln's 200th birthday, and of all the nice things said, I hadn't noticed anywhere that Abe Lincoln was once making a living in a way quite impossible to now: as a self-taught lawyer. If it was good enough to be self-taught then, and it produced Abe Lincoln...

The Lincoln penny was introduced in 1909, at Lincoln's 100th birthday. The Lincoln penny replaced the Indian Head penny, and is currently the longest running unchanged coin, at least on the obverse. In 1959, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, the reverse changed from images of wheat to the Lincoln Memorial. I still get about 5-10 "wheat pennies" every year in change, and I keep them all, just because. It's been about a year since I got a pre-1965 silver Roosevelt dime. I love getting those!

There is some talk about eliminating the penny altogether, on the basis of cost savings to the US Treasury. Now, I really like any cost savings that can be found. But there are other things I like about American money, such as the stability of the images of it, and, the fact that inflation, for all the damage it has done, has still not made the American penny as useless as, say, the Danish 25 Ore coin, which was just eliminated a few months ago.

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