Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
First New Nickel of 2004
I'm Bill the Mint Buffalo, saying it's April and there's a new nickel! It's called the Peace Medal Nickel—the first in a series called the Westward Journey Nickel Series™. And April is a good month to have a new nickel, for lots of reasons.
It was on April 23, 2003, that a law was passed so the Treasury could change the design on the back of the nickel. The new image had to be about the Louisiana Purchase, which Thomas Jefferson made in 1803 when he bought the Louisiana Territory from France.
The new design is based on Jefferson's Peace Medal. Above a handshake is a pipe crossed with a tomahawk. Jefferson had copies of the Peace Medal made for Lewis and Clark to give as gifts to the chiefs they met when they explored the new Territory.
Another big April for the nickel was in 1938. That's when the sculptor Felix Schlag won a prize in a nickel design contest. About 400 artists entered the contest to design a nickel that would honor Thomas Jefferson (on the front) and his home, Monticello (on the back). Schlag's designs became the Jefferson nickel we have used for all these years.
The other important April in the life of the nickel is April of 1743. That's when Thomas Jefferson, the president on the nickel, was born!