The Jefferson Nickel was first struck by the U.S. Mint in 1938 and was a replacement for the buffalo nickel. This nickel was used during wartime, from the years 1942-1945. During this time, the Jefferson Nickel was minted with silver in order to preserve nickel for the war effort. When the U.S. Mint began production of the Jefferson Nickel, the coin was produced at three separate facilities: Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco. More than 30 million Jefferson Nickels were struck in 1938 and they were released into circulation on November 15th of that year.
Jefferson Nickel Design
The Jefferson Nickel was designed by artist Felix Schlag. The coin was minted using a mix of copper and nickel and featured the portrait of the third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson on its obverse. The coin’s reverse featured Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello.
The coin’s design was the result of a contest held that featured a $1000 price for the winner.
Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross along with three sculptors judged the entries. Although entries for the design seemed to be lacking at first, many more were received just prior to the deadline. The judges eventually viewed 390 entries for the coin’s design, and four days later chose Felix Schlag as the winner. Interestingly, Schlag did not include his initials on his design and they were later added in 1966.
In addition to the profile portrait of Jefferson on the coin’s obverse, the obverse also features the inscriptions: “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “LIBERTY” as well as the minting year. In addition to the picture of Monticello on the coin’s reverse, the reverse also features the inscriptions: “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “FIVE CENTS” and “MONTICELLO” as well as the mintmark.
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