The first design features a Log Cabin to represent Lincoln’s humble beginnings in Kentucky. The Log Cabin appears on the reverse of the coin and was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Jim Licaretz. The obverse of the coin remains the classic bust of Lincoln designed by Victor D. Brenner. See my previous post for all of the 2009 Lincoln Cent designs and release dates.
The official launch ceremony for the first design took place in Hogdenville, Kentucky, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. The ceremony was held at LaRue County High School and conducted by United States Mint Deputy Director Andrew Brunhart and Kentucky Governor Steven L. Beshear. It was estimated that 1,500 people attended the ceremony.
Even though the 2009 Lincoln Cent has been launched, collectors are having a very difficult time getting their hands on the new coins. The economy has caused many people to cash in their coin hoards, creating an overabundance of old coins for the Federal Reserve. As a result, the circulation of newly minted coins is delayed until they can work through the surplus. (Susan Headley has been covering this situation in detail. You can follow the latest developments at coins.about.com)
Due to the temporary unavailability of the coins through normal channels, a hot market has developed rolls of the new 2009 Lincoln Cents. On eBay, rolls of the 2009 Lincoln Cents have been selling for as much as $30 to $40 per roll. Rolls with a post office stamp with the release date and location have sold for over $150!
I would caution that these price levels will almost certainly decline once the 2009 Lincoln Cents reach the regular distribution channels. Even before that point, the US Mint may start selling the new coins directly to collectors at much lower prices. Due to the delay circulation, the US Mint is making a “concerted effort” to have the coins available for sale in rolls.
Most of the rolls currently available for sale seem to be coming from the coin exchange at Hodgenville, Kentucky. It was reported that $5,000 worth of the new pennies were exchanged at the ceremony. Initially, attendees were allowed to exchange currency for a maximum of $5 worth of the new pennies, although they were allowed to go through the exchange line more than once. Towards the end of the ceremony, people were allowed to buy $25 boxes of the new pennies.
It has also been reported that the new pennies are available at the US Mint store in Washington, DC or the US Mint Gift Shops at the Denver Mint and Philadelphia Mint. (Philadelphia Mint now sold out according to comment.)
As a final treat, Mike Forader, one of the attendees at the launch ceremony in Hodgenville, Kentucky, was kind enough to provide me with some photos of the event. Below you will see a picture of Andrew Brunhart and Steven Beshear, a man impersonating Abraham Lincoln for the event, the hoard of new pennies available for exchange, and one of the rolls from the official release. Enjoy!