New nickels will soon be in circulation

Thursday, March 4th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

For the first time in 66 years we have a new design for the nickel. It commemorates the Louisiana Purchase.

News on 6 consumer reporter Rick Wells went looking for some history of the five cent piece and got more than his nickel's worth. “The coin is fairly irrelevant in day to day commerce, but it has an interesting history."

Mike Oyster with Tulsa Gold and Silver is talking about nickels, five cent pieces have been around for along time but they haven't always been called nickels. "They had dimes and half dimes; they started in the 1790's." Many of us remember buffalo nickels, Indian head on one side, the buffalo on the other, they came out in 1913.

During the Civil War there was such a shortage of metal, nickels were paper. "This is called fractional currency. What they did was they made pennies thru 50 pieces out of paper, because they just flat didn't have any copper."

Nickels used to buy more too. Pepsi advertised 12 ounces for a nickel.

The Jefferson nickel came out in 1938, which was the last time the government changed it until now. Recent legislation commemorating the Louisiana Purchase authorized a new design, called the westward journey series; the first one will commemorate the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. The new design on the reverse or tails side will feature clasped hands and the words Louisiana Purchase 1803.

Oyster says when the new quarter design came out the value of all collectable quarters went up, they expect the same thing will happen with nickels. And that's my two cents on the new nickel.

The second new design in the series will commemorate the expeditions of Lewis and Clark.