Treasure in Collecting Coins: The Westward Journey Nickel Series

coin collecting

Westward Nickels

The U.S. Mint started production of the Westward Journey Nickel Series in 2004 and gave collectors a welcomed change after sixty six years.

The United States’ five cent coin was minted with the same design, depicting an image of America’s third President, Thomas Jefferson, and his home of Monticello on the reverse, for a long stretch of sixty six years. Commonly referred to as the Jefferson nickel, the coin was first circulated in the country’s coinage in 1938.

Then, in 2004, the Westward Journey Nickel Series was introduced and marked an end to having the old familiar design. The change celebrated the beginning of five newly planned nickels that were set for release over the next three years. The series gave collectors the wonderful opportunity to appreciate and admire fresh styled coins and expand their collections.

Westward Journey Nickel Series

The new designs, commemorating and honoring the 200th year anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase and the journey of Lewis and Clark, were well received. Jefferson had been involved in both of the historic and important United States events on the coins. It was Jefferson who bought the land called ‘Louisiana’ from France in 1803 and it was he who also sent Lewis and Clark westward in 1804 to explore the new purchased land. Since the nickel already displayed a representation of President Jefferson and was in need of an update, the timing of these esteemed occurrences offered the perfect occasion to plan the re-designs.

2004 Peace Medal and Keelboat Nickel

The first of the series began with an image of the Jefferson Peace Medals. Jefferson had made and gave these tokens of peace to Lewis and Clark to offer to any Native American Chiefs they encountered during their westward journey. The prominent clasped hands of friendship, presented on the new coins, are symbolic of the country’s peaceful intentions.

The second release of 2004 displayed the image of the large 55-foot keelboat Lewis and Clark used during their expedition. Both of these designs are struck on the reverse of the nickel. The obverse of the 2004 nickels continued to display Jefferson as seen on the many previous years’ coins of before.

2005 American Bison and Pacific Ocean Nickel

However, in 2005, a different image of Jefferson appeared on the Westward Journey nickels obverse. And unlike the last portrait of Jefferson facing to the left, he now faced to the right. The reverse of the first 2005 series nickels featured the American bison. This animal represented the remarkable wildlife Lewis and Clark discovered and shares the important culture of the Indians. Finishing up the 2005 Westward Journey release was a scene of the Pacific Ocean and the words recorded from Clark’s journal upon seeing it, “Ocean in view!”

2006 Return to Monticello Nickel

The journey of Lewis and Clark was immense. The explorers documented and provided Jefferson with a greater understanding of the west. After returning east in 1806, much was shared and published about the unknown and mysterious land in the west. The images portrayed on the Westward Journey nickels honors these precious findings.

The Westward Journey nickels series ended in 2006 with the reverse image of the coin returning back to Monticello. Although similar to the 1938 depiction of Monticello, the 2006 nickel’s image is bolder and shows more details. The 2006 obverse features yet another image of Jefferson. This time the president faces forward; a first for a presidential portrait being displayed on a coin.

Collectors excitedly greeted the Westward series. After sixty six years of collecting the same images, the beautiful depictions offered on the new nickels is like exploring an unknown land and time.


Best of luck with all that you seek!  Treasure the Adventure!


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7 Responses

  1. Very nice Jenny. What inspires your topics?

  2. Twingem says:

    Jenny, you have done it again! Thanks for always sharing interesting things.

  3. Jenny says:

    Hi Twingem and Illinoisghost, thanks for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed it.

    My topics are inspired by whatever crosses through my mind at the moment I have time to write, Illinoisghost….:)….. now I do collect coins, and do feel these newer series/creations (like the America the Beautiful, Presidential, State, and others) offer a way to realize the beauty and amazing history our country holds, so I do like to share thoughts on them. And I learn a lot myself when I write, as it encourages me to seek out finer details on the topics. So sometimes I write about a topic I want to learn or research more on myself. And….. lots of other things too inspire…..but I’ll stop there….:)

  4. Buckeye Bob says:

    I think the whole business of coinage/money is interesting. The history, the meaning in the sense of the order of society, the counterfeiting and detection, rare coinage, metals and minting, all of that.
    It’s along the same lines as the great gemstones like the Hope Diamond, and aren’t the Russian Crown Jewels still lost?
    And also ancient relics.
    It all has the same basic interest, to me. History, law and order, rarity, ownership, culture, so much that is based on humanity and where we came from, and where we are going.

    • Jenny Kile says:

      Love your comment, Buckeye Bob. So many treasures to seek; research and learning to do…… how can anyone be bored? 🙂 The world is full of wonder to explore and enjoy!

  5. Buckeye Bob says:

    Mankind’s three greatest discoveries:
    1) Fire
    2) The wheel
    3) “Store of Value”.

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