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The United States Mint sponsored a contest for the best design of the replacement for the Buffalo nickel in January 1938. Entering a competition with 390 artists, German immigrant Felix Schlag, who had only been a United States citizen for 9 years, captured an award of $1000 for his motif picturing Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and a corner view of Jefferson’s home, Monticello, on the reverse. In the final production design, the profile of Monticello was changed to a front view. This series (1946–2003) is a continuation of the original 1938 design.
Mint marks (D, P, S):
1946-1964 – located to the right of Monticello on the reverse.
1965-1967 – temporarily suspended.
1968-2003 – located near the date on the obverse.
A left-facing bust of the president, dressed in a coat of the period and wearing a peruke wig. Arranged in arcs around the border are the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to the left, with LIBERTY and the date to the right, separated by a single star.
IN GOD WE TRUST
A front elevation view of Jefferson’s home, with the name MONTICELLO beneath it. Around the border are the legends E PLURIBUS UNUM above and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA below. Beneath MONTICELLO is the value FIVE CENTS. Beginning in 1966, Schlag’s initials FS appear below the truncation of Jefferson’s bust.
E PLURIBUS UNUM