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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 14, April 2, 2000, Article 5


A visitor to my personal web site wrote:

"I have been looking for an answer as to why all of the U.S. coins have the bust direction on the coins head facing one direction while President Lincoln faces the opposite direction. I have been scouring the internet looking for this but I cannot find anything. Do you know the answer or at least where I can go to find out?"

Here was my response:

"Interesting question, but not one which has a definitive answer. There is no law which says which direction the busts should face. Each design was conceived individually at the time of first issue - there is no master plan. The orientation of the bust is up to the designers. It is a matter of happenstance that the busts are facing the way they are.

The Lincoln cent was introduced in 1909, and it was the first U.S. coin to depict a President. Next came the Washington Quarter in 1932, then the Jefferson nickel in 1938, then the Roosevelt Dime in 1946. The Franklin Half Dollar came along in 1948 and was later replaced by the Kennedy half in 1964. Only Lincoln and Franklin face right; all the others face left. Several older U.S. coin designs depict a bust of Miss Liberty. In most she faces left, but there are some right-facing designs.

An art student might argue that a left-facing bust is generally more pleasing to the eye, and this might explain why most of our coin designers have chosen that orientation."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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