WASHINGTON – America is getting not one,but two newly designed nickels beginning next year to commemorate two centuries since the Louisiana Purchase,the U.S. Mint announced Thursday.
This is the first redesign of the nickel in 65 years,said U.S. Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore.
“We believe it is important for a country to pause from time to time to recognize our heritage,” Fore said,explaining why it is the time to change the nickel. It is the third-most produced coin in the United States,after the penny and the quarter.
Americans will see the first newly designed nickel in the spring,while the second design will be put into circulation next fall,Fore said.
A likeness of Jefferson will remain on the heads side throughout the nickel series,and his home at Monticello will return to the reverse in the 2006. Although the subjects will be the same,it’s possible both sides will be redesigned.
A rendition of the Jefferson Peace Medal,which Lewis and Clark gave to American Indian tribes on their expedition as sign of peace,will be depicted on the reverse of the first nickel.
Clasped hands symbolize peace and friendship. One of the hands has a military uniform cuff,symbolizing the American government. The other hand has a silver band adorned with beads and a stylized American eagle representing the American Indian community.
The inscriptions “Louisiana Purchase” and “1803” will also be minted on the 5-cent coin,designed by the U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Norman E. Nemeth.
On the second nickel,the reverse image will be an angled view of the keelboat — with full sail — that transported the Lewis and Clark expedition on the rivers of the Louisiana Territory in search of a passage to the Pacific Ocean.
The design,by U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Al Maletsky shows Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in full uniform looking ahead as crew members use poles to push the boat.
The Mint plans to make 500 million nickels and expects the nickel series to be as popular as the ongoing series of quarters for each state,Fore said.
“These new nickels will also be valuable to the education of children and adults,” she said. “They will spark conversations about the Louisiana Purchase and retell the historic tale of the Lewis and Clark expedition.”
The Mint will provide lesson plans to parents and educators in the spring.
Gerard Baker,superintendent of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail,is an American Indian whose family has kept an original Jefferson Peace Medal given to one of his ancestors.
“It is again time to explore,” he said. “It is a time to understand who we are as American people and the various cultures we now have as part of our nation. It is a time to get together. It is a time to again show our friendship and our peace,not for ourselves but for our children.”