American Bison Nickel

Westward Journey Nickels

Background

In 2004 and 2005, the U.S. Mint commemorated the bicentennials of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition with the Westward Journey Nickel Series. The American Bison Nickel is the third of four coins in the series.

The obverse design, for the first time in 67 years, shows a new likeness of America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson. The image appears only on the 2005 nickels in recognition of Jefferson’s role in the Louisiana Purchase and in commissioning the Lewis and Clark expedition. The design is based on the marble bust by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, completed in 1789. The portrait was made age-appropriate to his presidency by utilizing later paintings by Gilbert Stuart and Rembrandt Peale. The new obverse image of Jefferson replaces the image that had been on the nickel since 1938.

The reverse features an American bison, referred to as a buffalo. Lewis and Clark expedition journals described the buffalo, and it was an animal of great significance to many Native American cultures. The image of a buffalo adorned the reverse of the nickel from 1913-1938.

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Characteristics

Obverse (heads): The design bears, for the first time in 67 years, a new likeness of Thomas Jefferson based on a bust of Jefferson by Jean-Antoine Houdon. The "Liberty" inscription is based upon Jefferson's own handwriting.

Reverse (tails): Features the American bison, recognizing the Native Americans and wildlife encountered by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Obverse Inscriptions

  • IN GOD WE TRUST
  • LIBERTY
  • 2005

Reverse Inscriptions

  • UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
  • E PLURIBUS UNUM
  • FIVE CENTS

Mint and Mint Mark

Specifications

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

Artist Information

Obverse
  • Sculptor: Don Everhart
  • Designer: Joe Fitzgerald
Reverse
  • Sculptor: Norman E. Nemeth
  • Designer: Jamie Franki, Artistic Infusion Program
Content last reviewed January 8, 2021