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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
US unveils forward-looking nickel
New five-cent piece (Image: US Mint)
The coin is meant to embody Jefferson's forward-looking vision
The US Mint has unveiled a new design for the country's five-cent piece that breaks with decades of tradition.

The new nickel, to be circulated from early next year, still features Thomas Jefferson, the third US president, who served from 1801 to 1809.

But he will now for the first time on US coinage be shown facing forward rather than in profile.

The design marks 200 years since the US bought Louisiana from France and its exploration by Lewis and Clark.

The 1803 sale, referred to in history books as the Louisiana Purchase, involved more than a quarter of the modern US mainland - far more territory than the current US state of Louisiana.

That same year, President Jefferson won approval from Congress for a four-year expedition to explore the area, led by his secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and his friend William Clark.

'Fitting tribute'

Acting US Mint Director David Lebryk said the design was an appropriate way to honour Jefferson's place in history.

He said: "The image of a forward-looking Jefferson is a fitting tribute to [his] vision."

The design, which was chosen from 147 entries submitted by artists and engravers, is by Jamie Franki, an associate professor of art at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Based on a portrait from 1800 by painter Rembrandt Peale, the image also includes the word Liberty reproduced in Jefferson's handwriting.

The reverse of the coin will continue to show Jefferson's Monticello home, as it has done since 1938.

The new coin is part of a series commemorating the journey of Lewis and Clark.

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