NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - More than 178 years after his death, Thomas Jefferson is getting a makeover.
|TJ will put on a new face
The U.S. Mint announced Monday that it will soon unveil a redesign of the nickel. Since 1938, the five-cent coin has prominently featured an image of Jefferson on its front.
The nation's third president is not being removed from the nickel. But his appearance will change, thanks to a newly commissioned engraving that will run on coins minted in 2005 and thereafter.
"It's an updated, modernized engraving," said Becky Bailey, a spokeswoman for the Mint. "It's Jefferson as you've never seen him before."
The redesign is part of the ongoing commemoration of the Lewis & Clark expedition, the early 19th century exploration of the American West.
In 2003, Congress passed legislation enabling the Mint to revise the nickel to mark the bicentenary of that expedition. That resulted in the release of two separate nickels. They went into circulation during 2004, as part of the Mint's so-called Westward Journey series of coins.
The first of the Lewis & Clark nickels depicted the Jefferson Peace Medal on its back side. That was a medallion presented to Native American chiefs during treaty signings and other ceremonies. It features clasped hands and a peace pipe overlapping a hatchet.
The second of the 2004 releases was engraved with an image of the keelboat used by the "Corps of Discovery" to explore the American West.
The peace medal coin is already out of production, and the keelboat will cease minting by the end of the year. (Both will remain in circulation, there just won't be any new ones made.)
Neither of those nickels altered the image on the front of the coin, however. In fact, the 2005 series represents the first change to Jefferson's look since he was put on the nickel in 1938.
Thursday morning unveiling
The specific images to appear on the two new nickels to be released in 2005 will be announced at a press conference scheduled for Thursday morning.
Without giving further aesthetic details, Bailey confirmed that the new editions will also honor Lewis & Clark. A Mint press release noted that they will feature "designs harking back to a favorite coin of the American people."
Before this wave of nickel redesigning began a few years ago, Virginia's congressional delegation objected strenuously to the loss of free advertising for one of their state's top tourist attractions: Jefferson's home of Monticello.
They successfully lobbied to make any redesign a temporary measure. So in 2006, the obverse side of the nickel will revert back to its long-time subject.
"It's going to be Monticello again," said Bailey. "But it might be a new version of Monticello."