NGC has received a number of the new 2010 cents for certification.
The numismatic press recently announced that the new 2010 cents having a shield reverse were inexplicably released in Puerto Rico in advance of their scheduled February release date. NGC has received a number of these for certification, and the novelty of these coins makes them worthy of comment. The obverse remains unchanged from recent years, with the exception of some sharpening of the initials “VDB” at the truncation of Lincoln’s bust. The reverse has been replaced entirely, representing a retirement of the 50-year-old Lincoln Memorial design and last year’s four commemorative types. In their place is a Union shield of thirteen vertical stripes topped by a chief bearing the incuse legend E PLURIBUS UNUM. The value ONE CENT is inscribed in relief on a banner superimposed across the vertical stripes. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA appears around the upper periphery in raised letters, while the initials “LB” of the designer (Lyndall Bass) and “JLM” of the sculptor (Joseph Menna) are beneath the banner at either side of the shield.
This design is not entirely original, as it closely resembles pattern cents designed and sculpted by Charles E. Barber in 1896 (numbers J-1767 through 1769 in the Judd pattern book). Unlike the originals, however, the new 2010 cents omit the traditional visual language of heraldry in which white stripes are represented by a plain texture, red stripes are represented by fine, vertical lines within them and the blue chief is represented by horizontal lines. The new cent has the “red” stripes in faintly higher relief that is observable only with close examination, while the chief is not colored heraldically at all. The impression is thus given that the entire shield is of a single color, the lack of distinction being particularly egregious with respect to the stripes.
Collectors, of course, are simply pleased to have something new for their sets. How long this design will be utilized, with the cent itself on the endangered list, is anyone’s guess.