WASHINGTON – There's change in store for Thomas Jefferson (search) — on the nickel that is. He's getting his first makeover since being put on the coin in 1938.
The makers of the nation's coins, the U.S. Mint (search), unveiled designs for two new nickels to be issued in 2005. The rollout Thursday was the latest in a series of design changes for the coins.
A new likeness of Jefferson, the third president, will be on the front of the two revamped coins. The "tails" side also gets different looks.
With the makeover, Jefferson's image appears bolder. He gazes in a close-up profile from the side of the coin. The word "liberty" now appears in script — as Jefferson once had written in his own hand. The phrase "In God We Trust" remains on the front of the two coins as well as the year.
The back of one of the new nickels — which will be released early next year — features an American bison on a grassy patch, a design that is reminiscent of the buffalo nickel first issued in 1913. The words "United States of America" wrap around the top of the coin, above the bison's image. The phrase "E Pluribus Unum" is below the bison as is "Five Cents."
The tails side of the second new nickel features a view of the water from a rocky coastline dotted with trees. There's the phrase "Ocean in view! O! The joy!" That's a quote from explorer William Clark's journal, a reference to the Lewis and Clark (search) expedition's quest to reach the Pacific Ocean.
That nickel will be issued in the late summer of next year. In a circle around the edge of the nickel are the phrases: "E Pluribus Unum," "United States of America," "Five Cents," and "Lewis & Clark 1805"— the year the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean.
The new nickels are part of the Mint's Westward Journey Nickel series, which was kicked off earlier this year.
"The 2005 nickel designs follow Thomas Jefferson's vision to explore the Great West," said Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore. The designs, she said, "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."
Jefferson was the force behind the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific coast and back. He also was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase, which at the time doubled the size of the United States.
A 2003 law authorized changes in the nickel's design to honor the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Louisiana Purchase.
The first two nickels issued under the Mint's new series were: the Peace Medal nickel, which went into circulation in March, and the Keelboat five-cent piece, which came out in August. Those nickels, however, kept the current image of Jefferson on the front, while featuring new designs on the back.
The design of the old nickels — a profile of Jefferson on the front — and his Virginia home, Monticello, on the back— was introduced in 1938.
In 2006, an image of Monticello will return to the back of the five-cent piece and a likeness of Jefferson will be carried on the front.
Separately, a colorful new $50 bill with touches of red, blue and yellow will start showing up in banks, cash registers and wallets later this month. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (search), which makes U.S. paper currency, says the new bill will go into circulation Sept. 28.