Frank Gasparro designed the Lincoln Memorial reverse, which was introduced in 1959 on the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.
In 1969, the dies were modified to strengthen the design, and Lincoln’s head was made slightly smaller. In 1973, dies were further modified and the engraver’s initials FG made larger. The initials were reduced slightly in 1974. During 1982 the dies were again modified and the bust, lettering, and date made slightly smaller. One variety of the 1984 cent shows Lincoln’s ear doubled. Some 1,579,324 cents dated 1974 were struck in aluminum as experimental pieces. None were placed in circulation, and most were later destroyed. One was preserved for the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution. Other 1974 experimental cents were struck in bronzeclad steel.
Some of the cents minted since 1994 show the faint trace of a mintmark, believed to be the result of the letter’s having been removed from the master hub during production of working dies for coinage. So-called phantom mintmark pieces were produced in Philadelphia but show traces of either a D or an S. Values for such pieces vary according to date and condition but are not significantly higher than for normal pieces.