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Cent designer gave Lincoln curls for depth

clinic0205aa.jpg clinic0205bb.jpg? Is the bust on the Lincoln cent an accurate reproduction?
Victor David Brenner took liberties with Lincoln?s hair, giving it the 1909 version of a permanent wave, as all contemporary photos show Lincoln with straight hair. Look at the coin and the hair is curly ? especially if you look at a 1909 date. But look at a photograph and you?ll see that his hair was relatively straight. Once again it was a case of artistic license. Brenner felt the curls would add depth to the design. To prove him right, compare it to the smooth locks of Ben Franklin and the bald pate of Eisenhower.

? The statement is made that the Lincoln cent was the first U.S. coin to depict the same person on both obverse and reverse. Is this correct?
The Lincoln cent, which has had a statue of Lincoln on the reverse in the center of the building since 1959, is the second such U.S. coin, not the first. The undated Lafayette dollar of 1899, predating the Lincoln cent Memorial reverse by 59 years, has Lafayette on both obverse and reverse. The reverse shows Lafayette as a statue. Whether this was a coincidence or not is something you would have had to ask the late designer-engraver Frank Gasparro, who created the cent reverse.

? Is there any specific rule or regulation as to which way the bust has to face on U.S. coins?

The facing direction is more a matter of tradition than anything else, based in some small part on the custom in England of reversing direction with each new ruler. There is no law or regulation, so it is strictly a matter of the artist?s choice. Coins lately follow inauguration medals.

? I?m never sure whether rules governing left and right on a coin refer to the coin?s left and right, or the viewer?s left and right. Can you help?
Where possible, coin designs follow the rules of heraldry. Under those rules, the left and right are those of the design, not the viewer. For example, a bust facing to the coin?s right is facing ?Dexter,? which is correct under the laws of heraldry.  Facing the other way is facing ?Sinister,? which is not allowed under the oldest European heraldry rules (those of Spain). That the rules of heraldry are ignored as frequently as they are honored is underscored by the English practice of changing directions with each new ruler.


Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 41-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to Answerman2@aol.com.

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