1938 Fifty Years Ago

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The United States Mint unveiled its design for the new Thomas Jefferson five-cent piece on April 21. Felix Schlag’s winning entry, depicting Jefferson in profile on one side and Monticello on the other, replaced the twenty-year-old Indian-head nickel. Except for minor modifications, the coin’s design remains unchanged to this day.

From 1942 to 1945 the nickel contained no nickel, as a result of a wartime metals shortage. The U.S. Mint substituted a mixture of copper, silver, and manganese for the traditional copper-nickel alloy that had jingled in America’s pockets since 1866.