There's still nickel in the nickel.
The 2006 five-cent coin is the same weight and metal alloy as when it was first made in 1866 (except when its nickel was replaced during World War II). Although its design has changed (Shield, Liberty Head, Indian Head/Buffalo, and Jefferson types), the nickel is the circulating coin whose weight and composition have stayed the same for the longest time.
One design used to be anonymous.
When it first came out in 1938, the Jefferson nickel was the only circulating coin that did not carry the initials of the artist. That was changed in 1966, when Felix Schlag's initials were added.
A medal was the model for a nickel.
The Peace Medal design on the back of the first nickel of 2004 is based on the back of the Peace Medal made for President Jefferson in 1801 by John Reich.
The President got the first Jefferson nickel.
The coin, issued on November 6, 1938, was presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The nickel's image was a likely likeness.
The portrait on nickels made before 2004 was based on a marble bust by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. The sculpture was completed in 1789, while Jefferson was still alive, and is said to look just like him.
The nickel's name is unique.
It's the only U.S. coin that is called by its metal content—even though the metal alloy in a nickel is only 25 percent nickel. The rest is copper.
An American explorer designed his own boat.
Captain Meriwether Lewis drew up the plans for the keelboat shown on the Keelboat nickel. The 55-foot keelboat was built in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It could be sailed, rowed, poled like a raft, or towed from the riverbank.
One artist went from car design to coin design.
Of 390 artists who entered the contest to design a new nickel, the winner was Felix Schlag in 1938. Schlag was an auto stylist for General Motors.
The quarters are all lined up.
For 10 years starting in 1999, the United States Mint 50 State Quarters Program released a quarter design for each of the 50 states. Which state first? The states were honored in age order—oldest first—according to when they ratified the Constitution or joined the Union.
"Nickel" is a rascal.
The word "nickel" dates back to the 1750s in Sweden and Germany. One meaning of the German word "nickel" is "rascal," so "kupfernickel" could be translated "false copper." Miners invented this name because nickel ore looks like copper, a more valuable metal. Sometimes the miners thought they had found copper, but they were fooled by that rascally nickel.