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Redesigned nickel to make its debut

WASHINGTON—A new nickel, dominated as never before by Thomas Jefferson's face and bringing back the bison on its flip side, starts trickling into circulation Monday.

The U.S. Mint is releasing 97 million of the nickels to the nation's 12 Federal Reserve banks starting Monday. It expects to pour 600 million to 650 million of them into the change supply over the next six months.

The new design, which features an up-close profile of the right side of Jefferson's face, is the third of four nickels being released to commemorate the bicentennials of the Jefferson-initiated Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The fourth commemorative coin—the so-called "Ocean in View" nickel, depicting the Oregon coast where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean in 1805—will be released late this summer. It's inscribed with Clark's journal's words to mark the event: "Ocean in view! O! The joy!"

The newest coin, called the American Bison nickel, brings back the behemoth that dominated the West in Lewis and Clark's day and dominated the flip side of so-called Indian head nickels from 1913 to 1938. Jefferson's home, Monticello, and a bust of Jefferson in profile replaced them.

President Bush approved the Westward Journey nickel series in April 2003.

"When you have a coin redesigned, you look at it again and it reconnects you with your nation and history," said Becky Bailey, the public affairs director for the Mint.

The Mint released the first two nickels in the series—the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark Keelboat coins—last year. Both have the old, smaller Jefferson bust on their "heads" side.

In 2006, the nickel will return to a version of the Jefferson and Monticello nickel, although it, too, is being considered for a redesign.

To promote the new coin, mint officials will be on hand Tuesday at Washington's Union Station with $100,000 worth of new nickels, which they'll trade for other coins or currency. They'll be offering the nickels in $2 rolls or 100-coin bags.

Customers also can purchase the new coins online at www.usmint.gov.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTOS (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): NICKEL

GRAPHIC (from KRT Graphics, 202-383-6064): 20050225 NICKEL design

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