U.S. Mint Decides New Penny Makes Sense

How's this for irony? As one arm of the government was getting ready Monday to print up billions of dollars to bail out the financial system, another was showing off the new pennies it plans to mint to honor a president, CBS News anchor Katie Couric reports.

The bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth is coming up, so the U.S. Mint decided that a makeover of his penny - well, it just made sense.

First, some history.

The original Lincoln penny was minted in 1909 to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.

It replaced the Indian head penny and featured Lincoln's image on the front, and ears of wheat on the back.

In 1943, the composition of the penny was changed briefly to zinc-coated steel, because of a WWII copper shortage.

In 1959, on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, the flip side was changed to show the Lincoln Memorial.

And at that very memorial Monday, the U.S. Mint gave America a look at the new Lincoln pennies.

The familiar face remains, but on the back are new images that depict Lincoln's life.

From his birth in a log cabin to his work as a rail splitter to the beginning of his professional career and finally his presidency - when the Capitol Dome was a work in progress.

The first of the new pennies go into circulation on Feb. 12 - Lincoln's birthday of course.