By Erin Carlson Mast
In the Simpsons season finale on Sunday night, Bart Simpson embarked on a new hobby: coin collecting. He quickly fills all the slots in his coin collecting book until he came to the last one, the “1917 ‘Kissing Lincolns'” cent. The show explains the “Kissing Lincoln” penny was the result of a striking error at the US mint causing two Lincoln profiles to be facing one another, giving them the appearance of kissing.
The “Kissing Lincoln’s” cent doesn’t exist in reality, of course, and while some errors do make it into the hands of collectors, according to the US Mint, most errors are recycled on the spot: http://www.usmint.gov/about_the_mint/collectors_corner/index.cfm?action=Collecting_coins.
There is real news about the Lincoln penny, however, which will receive a make-over this year. Redesigned pennies will begin circulating in 2009 in celebration of the Bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. As the US Mint outlines, the four new designs will feature a different image on the reverse side of the coin, one each to commemorate his life in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/lincolnRedesign/index.cfm
Perhaps the Simpson’s season finale will inspire the US Mint to rethink the design on the front of the penny too?
UPDATE: After this episode re-aired on television, we received a number of comments from folks claiming they found a real version of the “Kissing Lincoln” penny online. In both cases the “real” penny was actually the result of Photoshop. One of the websites acknowledges this without question, the other does not, yet the “real” coin bears no resemblance to the actual layout of the pennies in production in 1917, and would not be the logical result of either a double-strike or mis-strike. Thanks for sharing nonetheless!