Click to enlarge1952 Lincoln Cent

The following information is courtesy of Roger Burdette.

In December 1951 sculptor James E. Fraser, designer of the Buffalo nickel and several commemorative coins, sent unsolicited obverse and reverse designs for a new Lincoln cent to Director Nellie Tayloe Ross. Upon viewing the models, Director Ross wrote, "...It is with a real thrill of admiration and appreciation I behold these beautiful productions of your art. The portrait of Lincoln impresses me as being incomparably better than the one now impressed upon the one-cent piece."

The obverse featured a large scale portrait of Lincoln, not unlike Fraser's 1911 concept. The reverse showed an oak tree, " a symbol because Lincoln was a woodsman...It stands too for strength, ever renewing growth, and unity. Like a nation, it has roots, a trunk, branches, flowers and finally fruit."

Director Ross was so impressed that she convinced the Secretary of the Treasury to permit pattern coins to be struck. Forty-six pieces were coined on May 7, 1952 and another 100 were made from dies of slightly lower relief on June 19. Although Ross, the Secretary and others gave strong support to the new Lincoln cent design, the change was not to occur. Demand for coinage surged and the Mint Bureau could barely keep up with normal production: the project was scrapped in March 1953.

The 146 pattern cents were certified as being destroyed on March 16, 1953, the dies were locked in the Engraver's safe and the models stuck in storage at the Philadelphia Mint. In 1995, numismatist Bill Fivaz chanced to photograph the obverse model.

Photo attached is by Bill Fivaz. It is not known whether the photo is of a galvano or a colored plaster model. (Would this or a similar portrait be a suitable replacement on the cent in 1909?)