Two New Nickels

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Two new nickels were released in 2004, the first new designs for the coin since 1938. Both commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. The head side of the new nickels remain the same: Thomas Jefferson's image in profile. The back of one of the coins shows a handshake between an American Indian and an American soldier under the words “Louisiana Purchase.” This design is similar to the Indian Peace Medals given to American Indian leaders during Jefferson's presidency. The second nickel shows the keelboat, which was designed by William Clark for his 1803–1806 exploration of the Pacific Northwest with Merriwether Lewis.

In 2005, the U.S. Mint launched another new nickel design, this time reviving an old favorite—the buffalo nickel. Buffalo nickels were minted until 67 years ago. In the original version, a picture of an American Indian appeared on one side; on the reverse side was a buffalo. (Although the animal is popularly called a buffalo, it is technically a bison.) In 1938, the U.S. mint came up with a new design for a nickel—the one which is widely circulated today—and retired the buffalo nickel. That design features a picture of President Thomas Jefferson on one side, and on the tail side, an image of Jefferson's home, Monticello. The brand new nickel just released retains a picture of Thomas Jefferson on the front and a buffalo on the reverse. A second new nickel to be released in 2005 will feature the Pacific Ocean on the reverse, the final goal of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Thomas Jefferson was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States, and for sending Lewis and Clark off on their expedition in search of a Northwest Passage.

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