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Redesigning Illinois Penny - News


The following entry was taken from an article in the Illinois State-Journal Register.

So, just how much work did it cause the U.S. Mint to redesign the new penny - released in Springfield last week - to include a likeness of the Old State Capitol?

“It caused a lot of people to work overtime for a while, to redo the artwork and to do the sculpting and then to make master dies,” said EDMUND MOY, director of the Mint, who was in town for the unveiling. “We’ve had it done before.”

The hero of the day sitting in the front row was WALLY HENDERSON, the architect who designed the restoration of the Old State Capitol in the 1960s and pushed U.S. Sen. DICK DURBIN, D-Ill., and others to make sure the new cent would show something to distinguish it as the Illinois-oriented coin. Durbin, in a speech, said Henderson is “a great friend of Abraham Lincoln” and “a great friend of mine,” but “When it came to this penny, he was a great pest.”

Durbin prevailed on then-U.S. Treasury Secretary HENRY PAULSON to push the change.

Durbin and Springfield Mayor TIM DAVLIN both lauded Henderson for his tenacity.

Davlin did mention in his comments that the penny now shows Lincoln reading a book in front of the building. That was just a bit off. The scratched design had Lincoln reading a book. In the actual design, he’s standing and speaking.

That new design almost included Lincoln “holding a rolled up piece of paper as he might have, as I imagined he might have held onto his words, even though he didn’t have to refer to them,” said JOEL ISKOWITZ of Woodstock, N.Y., designer of the penny.

But he said he was instructed to remove the paper, so the design just has Lincoln with “one hand behind his back, and one hand gesticulating.” The change, Iskowitz said, might have been due to a “coinability” issue.

“It might have been difficult to manufacture,” he said.

After all the drama, Henderson told reporters, “I was just glad to see it actually arrive.”

The design is one of four being released to help honor the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.



Photo by David Spencer/The State Journal-Register

Springfield architect Earl Wallace "Wally" Henderson Jr., left, stands for a photograph with others before the unveiling ceremony for the third Lincoln Bicentennial penny on the grounds of the Old State Capitol Thursday. Henderson was singled out for praise during the ceremony by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin for getting the design of the penny changed from Lincoln reading a book to Lincoln the lawyer standing in front of the Old State Capitol.


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