cents donít carry collector premiums
By Jeff Starck
While in office,
President Abraham Lincoln placed his stamp on
A commonly encountered altered Lincoln cent
features the profile bust of President Kennedy.
It is usually sold attached to a card reporting
"astonishing coincidences" between the men's
Various images have been placed on Lincoln
cents, including state map outlines, lucky
symbols like a four-leaf clover and horseshoe,
and slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther
Since his being honored on coinage, the nation
has placed its stamp on Lincoln. Or, more
precisely, next to Lincoln.
In recent years, the Lincoln cent has become a
venue for messages political, whimsical and
Various alterations of the Lincoln cent have
been formed outside the Mint, and many of those
pieces have found their way into circulation.
The alterations are typically tiny, as the
canvas of the Lincoln cent, with its portrait,
doesn't leave much room for promotional messages
Perhaps the most ubiquitous tiny added image is
the outline of President John F. Kennedy.
In an effort to capitalize on immense interest
in Kennedy collectibles, private companies have
taken genuine Lincoln cents and stamped them
with a crude representation of President
Kennedy, then affixed the coins to a card
listing historical facts and misstatements of
A 1995 report in Coin World indicated that the
Johnson Smith company, a popular purveyor of the
novelties, had stopped producing the
Though it has been several years since many of
these novelties were created, they still pop up
in circulation where they are found by a curious
collector or noncollector. The pieces are often
the subject of reader inquiries. Sometimes, the
finders of these cents ask whether the Mint
produced the coins in that form.
Kennedy is not the only man of the 1960s to
feature on these altered Lincoln cents.
Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, too,
has been found in circulation, facing the famed
Another commonly encountered alteration of the
Lincoln cent is the addition of a state map
outline bearing the state's postal abbreviation.
According to the 1995 Coin World story, the
Johnson Smith company was still offering 50-coin
sets of Lincoln cents bearing each of the 50
states as late as 1995, but the product is no
longer included in the company's current "Things
You Never Knew Existed" catalog.
Other Lincoln cents marketed by private
companies may depict Lincoln smoking a pipe
stamped into the coin, or feature so-called
"lucky" symbols like a horseshoe and four-leaf
Some Lincoln cents of 1976 bear special
Such pieces as the Lincoln/Kennedy cent and the
various other iterations are considered altered
coins. As of this date, no secondary market has
developed for the Lincoln-Kennedy cents and thus
they carry no premiums.