The Jefferson Nickel was first minted in 1938 to honor Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States (1801-1809) and a primary author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The coin was designed by sculptor Felix Schlag, who won a national competition organized by the Department of the Treasury. The obverse features a portrait of Thomas Jefferson based on a bust of Jefferson made by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1789. The reverse shows Jefferson’s Monticello home in Virginia. This collection includes one coin from each of the first 10 years of issue, 1938 to 1947. Included are the 1942-1945 World War II “emergency” coins struck in 35% silver.
During World War II, nickel was a valuable component in guns, tanks, and airplanes – so the U.S. Mint eliminated nickel and struck the coin in a new alloy that included 35% silver. These “emergency” coins are the first and only Silver Nickels in U.S. history, and the collection features one coin from each year of issue for a complete year-set within the larger collection. To distinguish them from regular Jefferson Nickels, the silver coins feature a large mint mark on the reverse, above Monticello. The set of 10 historic Nickels is presented in a custom display wallet with fascinating historical information about the coins.