From Royal to Republican, by Caroline Winterer

Teaching the Article
Exercise 1

The Penny

What are the stakes when you classicize something? Look at the ubiquitous twentieth-century object below--a penny (first designed in 1909 with the reverse redesigned in 1959)--and in your mind strip it of the parts that explicitly classicize it (consider the Latin phrase, the profile of Abraham Lincoln, the image of a pillared temple-like building). What happens? What does classicizing help you do, and what can it prevent you from doing? How does it both obscure and reveal? Why does our coinage evoke the classical past, and what are aesthetic alternatives to classicization?


A. Penny