LONG BEACH (gorewon2000.net) January 31, 2001 -- Jay W. Johnson, Director of the United States Mint, announced today that production is set to begin on the new George W. Bush cent. "The Steal Penny" is the newest U.S. Mint issue since the Golden Dollar and 50 State Quarters releases.
"Through Congressional authorization, the United States Mint is responsible for the production of coins that typically celebrate and honor American people, places, events, and institutions," Director Johnson said, "so this is something of a break from tradition for the organization." Johnson, who took over the Director's Office in March of 2000, said that he considers the striking of this most recent coin "the most politically significant mint release since the 1943 zinc-coated steel Lincoln cent."
THE 1943 STEEL PENNY
In 1943, the United States Mint began production of the "Steel Penny," as part of a domestic effort to free up copper for the Allied war effort. Johnson announced today that, "Like World War II, another great struggle has been joined, and with it comes a change in America's coinage." Referring to the homefront activities that were so characteristic of that past era, Johnson said, "The 1943 Steel Penny, though unattractive and unpopular at the time, has with the passage of time come to symbolize American dedication and sacrifice -- both military and civilian -- and a willingness to fight to preserve democracy. Perhaps in time, this coin -- also unattractive -- will come to symbolize similar values, though in a different way."
THE 2001 STEAL PENNY
Johnson unveiled an artist's rendering of the new Steal Penny, which was approved by the Mint in record time, having been received only eleven days ago. Drawing attention to its several features, Johnson said, "Although this new design is similar in layout to the well-loved Lincoln cent, any comparisons to that venerated coin will likely end there."