The 5-cent coin has not always been called a "nickel." It was first named a "half-disme" (pronounced as "dime") and was much smaller than the modern nickel. However, half-dismes were still produced until 1873.
In 1938, Thomas Jefferson became the president featured on the obverse (heads) side of the nickel, and Monticello, Jefferson's Virginia home, became the focus of the reverse (tails) side of the nickel. Jefferson and his home remained on the nickel until 2004.Learn more about Coins & Currency