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Coin Of the Month

Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin

"Return to Monticello" Nickel

Well, this is it:  the last nickel of the Westward Journey Nickel Series.  I've learned a lot about Lewis and Clark and the Louisiana Purchase through these five nickels! Since we'll be seeing this last design for a long time to come, I picked it as the Coin of the Month.

It was in March of 1801 that Thomas Jefferson (pictured on the coin) began his first term as President of the United States.  He had already served in Virginia's government and, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence.  Jefferson was minister to France after Benjamin Franklin and Secretary of State in President Washington's Cabinet.

Ever since Jefferson was about 27 years old, he lived in the house he built on the Virginia hilltop he called "Monticello" (meaning "little mountain" in Italian).  While he was president, he traveled there from Washington, DC, whenever he could because he loved it so much, though the trip took days rather than the hours it takes by car today.

For most of the 56 years he lived at Monticello, Jefferson worked on the house...adding to it, tearing parts down and rebuilding them.  He called the house his "essay in architecture."  By the time he finished "putting up and pulling down" in 1809, Monticello had become a 21-room mix of styles, full of his clever inventions.

As you may know, Monticello was on the back of the nickel before the Westward Journey Nickel Series began.  So, just as Jefferson was always happy to return to Monticello, I'm happy to do the same with this "Return to Monticello" nickel.  Watch for it in a pocket near you!


The front of the nickel shows Jefferson facing forward.
Obverse:  The new image of Thomas Jefferson is based on a painting finished in 1800, just before he became president.

The back of the nickel shows Monticello.
Reverse:  This image of Monticello is a sharper, more detailed version of the design that first appeared in 1938.

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