Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CI #30 -- New Penny

I'm going to go out on a limb here and call Abraham Lincoln a classy guy.

Not classy in the Kennedy Camelot mold, but the kind of guy who'd give you the shirt off his back so you could be classy (It's hard to be classy when you're shirtless). Then he'd just be shirtless. He'd do that for you.

The Lincoln Memorial has always been my favorite of the presidential memorials, and by extension I've been a fan of the Lincoln Cent. So I was a little taken aback when I found Classy, Distinguished Lincoln to be replaced with Cartoon Lincoln on the reverse of the brand new penny I got yesterday.

It was just one of a four-part series, this one being pt. 3, Lincoln's "Professional Life in Illinois." For this reverse side, the designers chose not to showcase the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln's classic stoicism, or his razor-sharp logic. Instead, they opted for depicting Lincoln after he'd moved to Illinois, gotten elected to the general assembly, and proven his ability to serve as a JC Penny catalog model.

(Lincoln outside the Illinois capitol building)

He really was ahead of his time.

Here's my curious question: Really? You take one of the most pivotal and influential presidents in history, and this is how you show he's important?

What is this posture or pose supposed to be saying? "Come to Illinois! We have a fancy building!" "Vote for me! I can point to things!" "'Ello, guvnah! Shine your shoes for a tuppence?!"

I know that public interest in philately is an all-time low [not fact-checked], but surely they could have done better. I also know that all the truly great coin designers died during a tragic fire in the Willard Hotel's sauna [also not fact-checked]. Yet still, I know that for better or worse, tastes and design preferences change over time -- and in this case for the stupid.

I'm off pennies.

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