The Nickel has a fascinating history that includes a four-year run of war nickels during some of America’s most challenging times (1942-1945). For all of its rich tradition, the coin has never featured the West Point Mint’s “W” mint mark… until now.
The original Jefferson Nickel bore the designs of Felix Schlag. A left-side portrait of the President flanked by the national motto on the left and “LIBERTY,” and the date on the right ran from 1938-2005. The reverse, which did not change in 2006, features his beloved Virginia home, Monticello. In 2006, the obverse got a redesign. A portrait by Jamie Franki replaced Schlag’s work. The new picture, which remains on the coin, shows Jefferson at a slight angle with his head turned such that he looks directly into the eyes of the holder. Notably, the inscription of the word “LIBERTY” is in the script rather than printed.
Throughout the history of the series, Jefferson nickels have been struck without mint marks (Philadelphia), with “D” mint marks (Denver), and with “S” mint marks (San Francisco), however, 2020 marks the first time that any Jefferson nickels will be struck with the “W” mint mark of the renowned West Point Mint.
While each of the United States Mint facilities has its own story, the West Point Mint stands alone in the hearts of patriotic collectors. That is because of its close proximity to another West Point landmark: the United States Military Academy. Since 1802, the academy has stood overlooking the Hudson River. Today, it continues to produce some of the country’s most important military leaders.
For more information about the West Point Mint and the coins it makes, check out this Info-Vault article!
The 2020 Jefferson nickels with the “W” mint mark are not being issued for circulation. Instead, each one comes as a bonus with one of the annual sets from the United States Mint and features a distinct finish. The first issue is the Proof Nickel, which comes with the 2020 US Mint Proof Set. The collection includes ten coins in total: a Sacagawea dollar, a Kennedy half dollar, five America the Beautiful quarters, a dime, a nickel, and a penny. Next, the mint will release a Reverse Proof Jefferson Nickel with the 2020 US Mint Silver Proof Set.
While the United States Mint initially planned to release a nickel with an uncirculated finish in the 2020 Uncirculated Sets, the Mint indicated that due to production limitations related to the Covid-19 pandemic they did not produce the bonus 2020-W Uncirculated Jefferson Nickel as originally planned.
The inclusions in the Proof and Silver Proof sets mark the first time that the nickel has been struck at the West Point Mint in their respective finishes. In each case, the nickels will be packaged separately in U.S. Mint plastic wraps. The coins add even more appeal to sets that are already popular among those who appreciate the designs of America’s circulating coinage.
The 2020-W nickels follow the 2019 debut of Lincoln cents with the “W” mint mark. Even older than the Jefferson nickel, the Lincoln cent was first struck in 1909 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Lincoln cents were struck from 1974-1986 at the West Point Mint, but those issues never included mint marks. Three editions with the mint mark were released: a proof with the US Mint Proof Set, a Reverse Proof with the Silver Proof Set, and an Uncirculated piece with the Uncirculated Mint Set, each a numismatic first-ever.
The Jefferson nickel has been around for so long and is so well known that an opportunity like this may be easy to overlook. Discerning collectors know, though, that these coins are historic issues, and a chance to be a part of history does not come along frequently. Whether you want to get W-Jefferson Nickels or just one to own a piece of this historic issue, don’t miss the chance to be a part of this numismatic first.
Author Name: Sean McConeghy
Sean McConeghy is a freelance writer and network marketer living in Roatan, Honduras. He originally hails from New York and specializes in writing about numismatics, real estate, and politics.