Jefferson Five Cents (1938-Date)

Coins / United States of America / 5 Cents Nickel

ID: 26

Overview / History

The Jefferson Nickel has been issued from 1938 to present. During the long duration of the series, there has been a brief composition change and a recent round of alternating obverse and reverse designs. The intriguing series is accessible for newcomers to the hobby and challenging for specialists. A set can be assembled out of pocket change, as well as pursued in high certified grades with full steps.

The original design for the Jefferson Nickels is by Felix Schlag. He submitted the winning design for public competition to design a new five cent piece featuring an authentic portrait of the third President Thomas Jefferson and his home at Monticello. Although there were modifications to the initial concept, the resulting design was used without interruption for more than five decades.

Early in the series, the standard composition was modified in order to preserve copper and nickel for the war effort. The new composition consisted of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. Coins were issued with the new composition from 1942 to 1945. They can be identified by the large mint mark placed above Monticello on the reverse. The eleven different "war nickels" represent a popular short set within the broader series.

From 2004 to 2005, a series of different reverse designs, as well as an alternate obverse design were issued to celebrate the bicentennial of the Louisana Purchase and Lewis & Clark's expedition. These Westward Journey nickels featured an image of the peace medal presented to Native Americans, the keel boat used by the explorers, an American bison, and the Pacific ocean in view. In 2006, a second new obverse portrait was adopted and the Monticello reverse was restored.

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