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Nickel gets new face, tails for 2005

By Associated Press
Published September 17, 2004

WASHINGTON - Thomas Jefferson appears bolder and bigger on new 5-cent pieces, marking his first makeover since he landed on the nickel in 1938.

The maker of the nation's coins, the U.S. Mint, revealed designs for two nickels to be issued in 2005. The unveiling Thursday was the latest in a series of design changes for the coins.

A new likeness of Jefferson will be on the front of the revamped coins, giving the third president a "fresh, contemporary look," Mint director Henrietta Holsman Fore said. The "tails" side also gets updated.

With the makeover, Jefferson will move from the center of the coin to the side, where he gazes in a close-up profile that shows more detailed features of his face.

"I wanted an image that was large enough so that you could see the determination and intelligence in his eyes. The kindness of his mouth. His sense of humor. The main thing that was guiding me . . . I wanted you to get a sense of the character of the person," said artist Joe Fitzgerald, who created the design.

Also on the front: The word "liberty" will appear in script - as Jefferson once had written in his own hand. The phrase "In God We Trust" remains as well as the year.

Daniel Jordan, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and administers Jefferson's Virginia home, Monticello, described the likeness as "truly impressive and it is entirely appropriate." Besides being a founding father of the nation, Jefferson was an avid coin collector, he said.

The back of one of the nickels - to be released early next year - features an American bison on a grassy patch, a design that is reminiscent of the buffalo nickel 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 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 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.

Fore estimated between 500-million and 750-million of each nickel might be made next year.

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.

[Last modified September 17, 2004, 02:35:25]

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