Back in February, the U.S. Mint chose a new reverse penny design for circulation this year. Created by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program Associate Designer Lyndall Bass, and sculpted by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna, it depicts a shield with 13 vertical stripes bearing the E PLURIBUS UNUM (Out of Many, One) motto.

The stripes represent the 13 original states joined together as a united country. There were 18 designs submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. In turn, both organizations submitted their recommended designs to US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner, who selected the Union shield design.

The 2010 Lincoln penny design evolved from the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 which required a new penny design be developed for use in 2010 and beyond, to symbolize President Lincoln’s preservation of the United States as “a single and united country.”

Popular during the Civil War era, the shield’s style recalls a healthy and prosperous nation. The Union shield is a replacement for four 2009 designs showing different aspects of Lincoln’s life and the 1950 to 2000 Lincoln Memorial design.

I’ve read that the design is expected to stay for at least 25 years (or until the penny is phased out, whichever happens first). The heads side (technically referred to as the obverse) won’t change in its design. Abraham Lincoln’s portrait has graced the penny since 1909.

What’s of interest to me however has been the amount of commentary that has flowed as a result of the chosen design. Personally, I like its simplicity and historical feel. That said, I would have been equally happy to see the last proposal in the image, LP-18, used.

As of this post, Boing Boing has garnered over 120 comments: good, bad, and ugly. Print Magazine’s headline is simply entitled Penny Dreadful. As well, the blog post features a few other designs that obviously didn’t make the cut.

What are your thoughts? Is this a winning design worthy of depiction on a US coin? View enlarged versions of the 18 original design proposals here.

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