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Who Is On The Jefferson Nickel?

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the history behind the inspiration for the Jefferson Nickel. Keep in mind that many of the portraits, paintings, photographs, and sculptures used when designing coins are not 100% what the coin looks like. So, take a few to explore this history behind the coins!

Jefferson Nickel Coins  |  Jean-Antoine Houdon’s Bust of Thomas Jefferson

When the decision was to be made for who would take the place of the Indian on the nickel, it was a simple choice in choosing one of the Founding Fathers of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was instrumental in the birth of the nation, and his bust graced the new nickels. The bust was based off of the famous sculpture done by Jean-Antoine Houdon. Houdon was famous for his marble busts of Presidents. One of his more notable bust was that of George Washington, which is housed in the Capital Building to this day. It only makes sense to base the portrait of this coin off of such a well-deserved President. The reverse of the coin also paid tribute to Jefferson by showing his house, the Monticello.

monticello jefferson nickelJefferson Nickel Coins  |  Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

The Monticello was the primary plantation for President Thomas Jefferson. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, the slave plantation occupied over 5,000 acres of land that Jefferson inherited at age 26. Shortly after his father passed away, he began building the plantation. This plantation served mixed uses. There were a variety of crops farmed here, including the ever popular tobacco. The Plantation was created in the Neo-Classical style, which Jefferson himself was obsessed with. The house sits on a mountain top which is where it derives the name “Monticello” from (meaning “Little Mountain”). This design has also shown up on the reverse of early $2 bills.