Washington — The United States Mint announced today that it is issuing two newly designed 5–cent coins (nickels) in 2005 to complete the Westward Journey Nickel Series™. A fresh, new image of President Thomas Jefferson will grace the obverse (heads side) of both nickels. It will be the first time that the image of Jefferson has changed on the nickel.
The reverse (tails side) of the first nickel (to be released in early 2005) will be an American bison design that is reminiscent of the beloved Buffalo Nickel. A second newly designed nickel (to be issued in the late summer of 2005) will feature the same new image of Jefferson on the obverse, with a reverse design that signifies the culmination of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The nickel series has symbolically followed Lewis and Clark along their journey.
“The 2005 nickel designs follow Thomas Jefferson’s vision to explore the Great West,” said United States Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore in a news conference at agency headquarters in Washington. “These small pieces of contemporary art will place us at those spellbinding moments when Lewis and Clark first encountered a grazing American bison and later the vastness of the western waters.”
The three new images (one obverse, two reverse) were selected from 144 designs submitted by the United States Mint sculptor–engravers and the 24 artists in the agency’s new Artistic Infusion Program. United States Mint sculptor–engravers Donna Weaver, Norman Nemeth and Don Everhart later sculpted the selected designs into the images that will appear on the new coins.
Artist Joe Fitzgerald of Silver Spring, Maryland, designed two of the new images — the obverse of Thomas Jefferson with the word “Liberty” written in Jefferson’s own hand and the “Ocean in view! O! The joy!” reverse image for the second nickel of 2005. The quote, “Ocian [sic] in view! O! The joy!” is from William Clark’s journal and referred to the ecstatic moment at which the expedition felt its quest to reach the Pacific Ocean had been fulfilled.
Artist Jamie Franki of Concord, North Carolina, designed the “Grazing Buffalo” image for the reverse of the first nickel of 2005. This nickel recognizes the American Indians and wildlife encountered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
A law passed by Congress and approved by President Bush in April 2003 authorized the redesign of the nickel for the first time since 1938 to commemorate the bicentennials of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Peace Medal nickel went into circulation in March 2004, and the Keelboat nickel followed in August. In 2006, an image of Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia home, will return to the nickel reverse, while a likeness of Jefferson will continue to grace the coin’s obverse. A National Endowment for the Arts/United States Mint panel evaluated the nickel design candidates for 2005 and selected the 17 most promising images, which then were submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee for their review. The Treasury Secretary considered the comments and recommendations of these two panels in approving the final design selections. To download the three new images for the 2005 nickels, please click here.