Nickel gives lesson in history, spelling

Posted: Friday, August 05, 2005

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — William Clark scribbled ‘‘Ocian in View! O! the joy!’’ in his field notes when he thought (incorrectly) that the Lewis and Clark expedition had finally spotted the Pacific on Nov. 7, 1805.

America’s newest coin, the last of four in the U.S. Mint’s ‘‘Westward Journey’’ series of commemorative nickels, recalls the moment but with some editing.

U.S. Mint officials changed Ocian to Ocean, erasing an enduring reminder of Clark’s famously free hand with spelling.

Coin designer Joe Fitzgerald admits to some disappointment.

‘‘I thought it would be an educational opportunity to get teachers talking about changes in our language,’’ he said.

He is in the Northwest for the official release of the nickel at Cape Disappointment, Wash., on Friday and Blue Lake Park near Portland on Saturday.

‘‘The honest-to-God truth is I think they were afraid they would have to hire someone full-time to answer the phone calls from people who thought it was misspelled,’’ he chuckled.

Like all nickels, the four new ones have Thomas Jefferson on the front.

One of the 2005 nickels has on its reverse side a buffalo, in honor of the wildlife the explorers found. The tails side of the ‘‘Ocean View’’ coin is modeled on a composite of photos of Cape Disappointment, Wash.

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