The Jefferson Nickel was first minted in 1938, replacing the popular Buffalo Nickel.

The name obviously stems from the design of the coin. The coin's obverse depicts a portrait of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Arcing along the left side is the phrase "IN GOD WE TRUST", and the right side has the word "LIBERTY", followed by the minting year. The reverse of the Jefferson nickel displays a rendition of "Monticello", Jefferson's Charlottesville home. Below the house is the word "MONTICELLO", just above "FIVE CENTS" printed in a downward arc. "E PLURIBUS UNUM" arcs along the top of the reverse, while "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" arcs along the bottom.

The coin was designed by Felix Schlag, and beginning in 1966, his initials appear near the bottom of the coin on the obverse.

This particular coin is the only modern coin which is still made up of its original composition - in this case, 25% nickel and 75% copper. The only time this composition was modified was during the years of 1942-1945, when nickel was mandated for the government for wartime use. During this period, the Jefferson nickel was composed of 56% copper, 35% Silver, and 9% Manganese.


United States Coinage

In 1938, Felix Schlag designed the new Jefferson Nickel. His winning design featured a striking ¾ view of Monticello on the reverse, and a breathtaking Art Deco font. However the Mint reject his reverse and changed the font, creating the coin we know today. When the coin was first up into circulation it did not carry his initials, although all other coins did being mint then did. In the mid ‘60s the coin magazine, Coin World began a campaign to give him the credit he deserved.

While ‘The great coin shortage of the '60s’ was under way the mint stopped all produce of proof coins, and in 1966 when they finally placed his initials on the obverse under Jefferson’s neck they broke their policy and produced two proof coins that were given to Mr. Schlag. To the best of my knowledge they have never appeared for public sale.


With a little effort one can assemble a complete set of Jefferson Nickels from circulation, but the odds of finding a 1950D are next to nothing. When I was young I would search the cash register and coke machine at my fathers store every day and did finally find one, It was the only one that I have ever seen in circulation.

In 1950 the mint at Denver only produced 2,630,000 Nickels the smallest amount ever for any Jefferson Nickel. But the timing was right for things to go every wrong for the mint. In the late ’50 speculators began hording rolls of coins and prices rose to incredible highs, by 1961 it was listed in the redbook for $5.50 (The price of a redbook in 1961 was just $1.00 ) By the end the '60s the price rose to $26.50

One dealer in Milwaukee had 8,000 rolls or 160,000 coins.

Like everything else reason final took hold and the price stabilized at about $5.00 were it still is at today

This was the coin that the mint used to blame The great coin shortage of the '60s on collectors.

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