Circulating Coins


Other Circulating Coins:

Penny | Dime | QuarterHalf Dollar | Native American $1 | Presidential $1


Today, we refer to the five-cent coin as a nickel, but that was not always the case—the first five-cent coin was made of silver. This silver five-cent coin was called a “half disme” (pronounced “dime”) and was much smaller than today’s nickel. Congress required the United States Mint to produce a new five-cent coin made of nickel and copper in 1866, but the smaller silver half disme was still made until 1873.

Jefferson took his place on the obverse of the nickel in 1938 with Monticello, his Virginia home, on the reverse. These designs, both by Felix Schlag, were produced until 2003. In 2004, the United States Mint began commemorating the bicentennials of the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark Expedition with the Westward Journey Nickel Series™. The nickel’s current design is the last of that series.

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Obverse (heads): Has featured, since 2006, the Thomas Jefferson likeness based on a Rembrandt Peale portrait completed in 1800. Peale’s portrait was the basis for most of the images of Jefferson made during his lifetime.

Reverse (tails): Features the classic rendition of Monticello originally executed by artist Felix Schlag, but with greater detail and relief added in the dome, balconies, door, and windows in 2006.

Obverse Inscriptions

  • LIBERTY (in cursive, based on Jefferson's handwriting)
  • Year

Mint and Mint Mark


Composition Weight Diameter Thickness Edge No. of Reeds
25% Ni
Balance Cu
5.000 g
0.835 in.
21.21 mm
1.95 mm Plain N/A

Artist Information

Obverse Reverse
  • Felix Schlag
Content last reviewed June 1, 2016

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