Abraham Lincoln looks a different way on the penny because the penny is an adaption of a plaque by Victor David Brenner. The artwork was placed on the cent as a result of President Theodore Roosevelt’s enthusiasm for Brenner’s work. Roosevelt recommended to have the artwork placed on the coin during Lincoln’s centennial year of 1909.
The penny differentiates from the nickel, dime and quarter in two distinct ways: First, Lincoln faces to the right on the penny, while the presidents shown on the other coins face right. Second, the penny is a distinct hue and consists of copper. Both of these differences are a result of Brenner’s plaque.
The depiction of Lincoln on the coin is a replica of Brenner’s plaque; however, Brenner’s plaque is actually a replica in its own right. Brenner’s plaque is based upon a portrait of Lincoln from 1864. Lincoln is facing left in the portrait, therefore logically Lincoln is likewise facing left in the plaque. Therefore, Lincoln is facing left in all three works: the image, the plaque and the coin.
The penny’s dark hue originates from the fact that the plaque was made of bronze. To retain a similar tint, the U.S. Government circulated the penny with a copper coating.