Jefferson Nickels, 1938-1964
The Jefferson Nickel, currently a circulating coin, actually had its beginning in 1937. It was then that the Treasury sponsored an open competition to design a new five-cent coin. From over 390 participants, the work of Felix Schlag was chosen. His obverse design was accepted virtually intact, while his aesthetic three-quarter view of Monticello proved unacceptable for the reverse. Schlag did receive credit for the newly-designed Jefferson Nickel, although his initials were not added to the coin itself until 1966, nearly 30 years after the first Jefferson Nickels were issued in 1938.
- Jefferson Nickel – Original Design Vintage (1938-1964)
- Jefferson Nickel – Silver Alloy (1942-1945)
- Jefferson Nickel – Original Design Modern (1965-2003)
- Jefferson Nickel – “Westward Journey” Designs (2004-2005)
- Jefferson Nickel – Return to Monticello (2006 to Date)
The major highlight of this contemporary series was the change from a copper-nickel alloy to an alloy of copper, silver and manganese in 1942. Nickel, a crucial wartime commodity, was eliminated from the five-cent piece until 1946. These war nickels, as they are commonly called, were the first products of the Philadelphia Mint to have a mintmark. The mintmark, enlarged and moved from the right of Monticello to above its dome, signified the change in alloy used from 1942 through 1945. This was the first time that a precious metal was added to any base metal minor coinage.