Reach into your pocket. Take out a penny. Flip it over so the "tails" side is facing up. Look at it. Glance at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the right side. Notice the letters "FG"? Frank Gasparro. He designed it.
Frank Gasparro was born on August 26, 1909 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of 16, Gasparro dropped out of South Philadelphia High School to help support his family. He was eventually able to convince his father to allow him to enroll in classes at the Graphic Sketch Club, which later became known as the Samuel S. Fleischer Art Memorial.
In 1942, Gasparro was hired by the United States Mint as a Junior Engraver, at a salary of $2,300 a year. After being promoted to Assistant Engraver, Gasparro was eventually appointed the 10th Chief Engraver of the United States mint by President Lyndon B. Johnson, holding the position from February 23, 1965 to January 16, 1981. He would become known for creating such coin designs as the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, the reverse of the Lincoln Memorial Penny, the reverse of the Kennedy Half Dollar, the Eisenhower Dollar, and others. He also taught classes at the Fleischer Art Memorial, and was awarded the American Numismatic Association's Numismatic Art Award for Excellence in Medallic Sculpture in 1968. He was known for mentioning to cashiers, as well as strangers in check-out lines that he designed their change. He also never left a penny lying in the street.
Frank Gasparro died on September 29, 2001 at the age of 92. He holds the distinction of creating more coins in circulation than any other living artist in history.
Interesting note: Gasparro was born 24 days prior to the introduction of the Lincoln Penny in 1909.