Facts About

Pennies, Nickels, Dimes and Quarters

Facts about pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are a great way for children to learn about the coins we use everyday. Great information for the young coin collector!


On the front of the penny is a picture of Abraham Lincoln, who has been on the penny since 1909 (celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth). This penny was the first U.S. coin to have a picture of a president on it. Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and was in office during the civil war. He is thought to have preserved and united the country during this very trying time.

On the back of the penny you will find a picture of the Lincoln Memorial, which has been on the penny since 1959, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The Lincoln Memorial can be found at the National Mall in Washington D.C., and was first opened to the public in 1922. Many people visit the memorial every year and it is the sight for many gatherings; Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech by the Lincoln Memorial; the memorial is thought of as symbol of freedom.

If you find a penny that was made before 1958 you may have found a “wheat penny.” Instead of having a picture of the Lincoln Memorial on the back it has a picture of two pieces of wheat along with the words: “One Cent” and “United States of America.”


On the front of the nickel you will find a picture of Thomas Jefferson. This picture was designed from a portrait of the late President completed in 1800 and shows Jefferson as he looked at 57 years old when he was Vice President of the United States. You will also find the word “Liberty” written on the nickel, which was designed after President Jefferson’s own handwriting. Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States and was in office from 1801-1809. He wrote the Declaration of Independence and was one of the most important founding fathers of the United States.

On the back of the nickel is a picture of Jefferson’s Monticello, which was the home of the late president. It is located near Charlottesville, Virginia and was designed by Thomas Jefferson himself. It is historical landmark which receives many visitors every year.

New nickels were in production at the U.S. mint in 2004 and 2005 (in 2006 the orignal design was restored). These new nickels celebrate the bicentennials of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. Click here if you would like to learn more about these Westward Journey nickels.


On the front on the dime you will find a picture of Franklin Roosevelt, his picture first appeared on the dime in 1946, just after his death. Roosevelt was the United States’ 32nd president from 1933-1945 and brought hope to the nation, during the great depression, in his inaugural address by saying: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ After his death in 1945, U.S. citizens petitioned the Treasury Department asking for his picture to be put on the U.S. dime. This made sense since the late president supported the March of Dimes (a program that raised funds to help cure polio), and also considering Roosevelt contracted the polio virus when he was 39 years old.

On the back of the dime you will find a picture of a torch, which represents Liberty; an olive branch on the left representing peace; and an oak branch on the right representing strength and independence.


On the front of the quarter you will find a picture of George Washington, the first president of the United States. The late president’s likeness has been on the coin since 1932, the 200th anniversary of his birth.

On the back of the quarter you will find a picture of an eagle. If you find a quarter that was made in 1975 or 1976 you will have found a quarter that was designed to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence. The back of these quarters have a drummer and a victory torch surrounded by 13 stars, signifying the original 12 colonies outlined in the Declaration of Independence. THE DATES 1975 OR 76 ARE NOT MARKED ON THESE QUARTERS, THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL CAN KNOW WHEN THESE QUARTERS WERE MADE ARE BY THE PICTURES AND THE BICENTENNIAL DATE OF 1776-1976.

If you live in the U.S., you may have already noticed that many of the quarters in your pocket represent different states; the State Quarter program started in 1999 and will continue through 2008. Click here to find more information about starting a State Quarters Coin Collection . This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the history of the United States.

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Facts about Pennies, Nickels, Dimes and Quarters