"The standard designs for the Jefferson 5-cent coin appear on the verge of fading away, possibly forever."
Coin World, 5-5-03
Congress has just passed the American 5-cent Coin Design Continuity Act of 2003. The bill, introduced by Representative Eric Cantor (R. VA), authorizes the Treasury secretary to seek new obverse and reverse designs for the 5-cent coin. The new designs will honor the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase in 2003, and the 2004-2006 anniversary of the expedition to the Pacific Northwest by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
The original designs, featuring Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and his beloved home, Monticello, on the reverse, were created by sculptor Felix Schalg who won $1000 in a contest with 390 other artists. His designs have graced the Jefferson nickel since 1938.
The new designs are bound to excite renewed collector interest in the Jefferson nickel not in the least because for 2003 they will result in a "first-and-last"-year collecting opportunity. That's because 2003 will mark the last year of the existing Jefferson design and also the first year of a new design, both designs will be run concurrently.
With more than one design change in store for the Jefferson reverse, and the possibility of a new design for the obverse as well, collectors will be keeping a sharp eye out for the many opportunities these new coins present. They will offer an interesting combination of dates and designs, so stay tuned.