United States Mint Shows Off New Nickels As They Head into Circulation.
WASHINGTON — United States Mint employees celebrated the production of the first newly designed 5–cent coin (nickel) in 66 years with a news conference in Washington, D.C., today. The first nickels of the Westward Journey Nickel Series™ have been shipped to the Federal Reserve Banks, which will distribute them to the Nation’s financial institutions starting this week. The new nickel features a rendition of the Jefferson Peace Medal on the reverse (tails side). It should begin appearing in circulation during the next several weeks. John Reich designed the original Jefferson Peace Medal in 1801, and Lewis and Clark gave Peace Medals as tokens of goodwill to Native American Indians they met along the trail.
“This marks the first time in more than half a century that Americans will see a new design on their nickels,” said United States Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore, as she poured thousands of shiny new nickels onto a table to show off their design. “Americans will remember the important national events of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition for decades to come when they look at these nickels.”
The new reverse design features two hands clasped in friendship; it also bears the inscriptions “Louisiana Purchase” and “1803”. The obverse (heads side) retains the current likeness of Thomas Jefferson that appears on the nickel.
The United States Mint will produce another newly designed nickel in the Westward Journey Nickel Series later this year (in late summer/early fall). It will feature the keelboat that transported Lewis and Clark up the Missouri River. The United States Mint will produce sufficient numbers of the Westward Journey Nickel Series coins to meet demand.
In commemoration of the bicentennials of the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the President signed legislation (Public Law 108–15) to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to change the design of the nickel through 2005 to reflect images evocative of the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark’s historic expedition. The Westward Journey Nickel Series will end in 2006 with a return to a depiction of Monticello on the reverse.
The United States Mint plans to participate in several public events to herald the release of the new nickels, including an appearance by Director Fore at the Three Flags Festival in St. Louis on March 14, 2004, where the public may exchange bills and coins for the first newly designed nickel in the Westward Journey Nickel Series. There also will be events at the United States Mint facilities at Denver and Philadelphia where geodetic markers will be placed to note key areas that are significant to the Lewis and Clark Expedition bicentennial commemoration.
Created by Congress in 1792, the United States Mint is the manufacturer of legal tender coinage for the United States. In FY 2003, the United States Mint manufactured approximately 11.4 billion coins and generated gross revenue of $1.4 billion.