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Originally published Sunday, December 26, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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Change happens: the new penny

The 2010 Lincoln one-cent coin features a familiar face and a new look on the obverse side.

PREDICTING the future is tricky, but here is a prognostication made with great confidence: In 2060 or thereabouts, the public will be distraught when the 2010 Lincoln one-cent coin is replaced. The way many folks feel now as they learn the familiar Lincoln penny with the trolley on the back, around since 1959, is on the way out.

Oops, that is not a trolley, it is the Lincoln Memorial.

Pennies have a curious role in daily life. Most people would not bend over to pick one up off the sidewalk. The penny survives with the help of those odds cents generated by sale taxes. Otherwise, the credit goes to nostalgia.

In 2009, the U.S. Mint celebrated the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth and the 100th anniversary of the first Lincoln cent with four designs related to his life. No doubt, numismatists issued a collective sigh. Now a new, general-circulation version is being released.

Expect those pennies to be found in the sofa cushions by the great-great-grandchildren. The utilitarian coins have survived ATMs and debit cards, and rounding up and down, so Abraham Lincoln's image is likely to be around. The other side — the tail's side — was wheat ears before it was the Lincoln Memorial, and now it will be a union shield with the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM, and a scroll across the front that declares, ONE CENT.

The phrase "out of many, one" is certainly faithful to Lincoln's tenacious commitment to preserving the United States through a civil war.

In the meantime, listen for the complaints, and then know how beloved the interloping new coin will be to future generations. Change happens.

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