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Lincoln Wheat Cents
The year 2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln cent, with an obverse design that remains largely unchanged. (There have been minor hub changes and changes in metal composition over time.) The Lincoln cent obverse of 2009 thus marked the first time in American coinage history that a coin design (or half of one, anyway) has endured for 100 years.
President John F. Kennedy lost his life to an assassin on Nov. 22, 1963. The Franklin half dollar series was only 15 years old—introduced in 1948—and an 1890 law required Congressional approval for design changes. Nonetheless, Mint Director Eva Adams demanded new half dollar designs from Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts within a few days of Kennedy's death. No serious Congressional opposition materialized. The authorizing legislation passed Dec. 30, 1963; the presses began striking proof coins Jan. 2, 1964. The extraordinary timeframe was achieved only because Roberts had designed the Kennedy inaugural medals, used as starting points for the coins.