Due to the problems in production of the Buffalo Nickel at many of the mints, the Treasury Department wanted to replace the Buffalo Nickel with a new design commemorating Thomas Jefferson. In early 1938, the Treasury department held and open competition for all artists and sculptors to create the new design of a portrait of Jefferson on the obverse, and the image of his home, Monticello, on the reverse. Felix Schlag won the competition. The initial composition was 75% copper and 25% nickel, though it was changed to 56% copper and 35% silver, and 7% manganese in 1942 as nickel was needed for military armor during WWII. To distinguish the two varieties, the mint mark was enlarged and placed over the dome of Monticello instead of to its right. This was the first instance of "P" being used to designate coins minted in Philadelphia. In 1946, the nickel was returned to its original composition, which remains in place today.
From 1966 through 2002, the design remained virtually the same. From 2004 through 2006, the reverse of the nickel was changed to commemorate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The five new designs are referred to as the Westward Journey Nickel Series. In 2006, the final Westward Series Nickel, "Return to Monticello," featured Schlag's original depiction of Monticello on the reverse, and a new portrait of Jefferson designed by Jamie Franki and sculpted by donna Weaver on the obverse. This design remains in production today. The Jefferson Nickels were issued from 1938-Date by the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints.