In the Everything Old Is New Again Department, we have the return of the buffalo nickel.
Sixty-seven years after the government minted its last buffalo nickel, the symbol of the American West is returning to the 5-cent piece.
The United States Mint has shipped 97 million of the new coins to the Federal Reserve's 12 regional banks, and they will start distributing the coins to local banks Monday. The nickels should start showing up in stores' change drawers within a couple of weeks.
For those who can't wait that long, the Mint has planned an elaborate launch ceremony in Washington on Tuesday, complete with a live bison, tribal dances and American Indian speakers. People will be able to show up at Union Station and buy $2 rolls of the shiny new 5-cent pieces. The coins will also be on sale at the Mint's Web site starting Monday.
The Westward Journey Nickel Series is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition, both of which occurred during the administration of the country's third president, Thomas Jefferson.
The first two nickels were introduced last year. One featured two hands clasping, a replica of the friendship medallion that Lewis and Clark handed out to Indian tribes along the way. The second had a depiction of the keelboat they used to journey up the Missouri River in 1804.
The series represents the first change in the nickel since 1938 when the Mint switched from the buffalo nickel with an American Indian on the opposite side to the Jefferson nickel that had a picture of Jefferson on one side and Monticello, Jefferson's home, on the other.
While the traditional portrait of Jefferson appeared on the two new nickels introduced last year, the new bison nickel has replaced the old version of Jefferson with a view that shows him in bolder profile and also features the word "Liberty" in Jefferson's handwriting.
This summer, the fourth and final new nickel in the series will go into circulation, depicting the Pacific Ocean, and an entry from William Clark's journal — "Ocean in view! O! The joy!"
But the big draw for nostalgia buffs is likely to be the return of the American buffalo to the nickel.
"Coin collectors have been eagerly awaiting this because it evokes the Indian head, buffalo nickel that we minted from 1913 to 1938," Fore said. "There has been a strong pent-up demand for this coin."