The Jefferson Nickel was first minted in 1938, replacing the popular Buffalo Nickel.
The name obviously stems from the design of the coin. The coin's obverse depicts a portrait of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Arcing along the left side is the phrase "IN GOD WE TRUST", and the right side has the word "LIBERTY", followed by the minting year. The reverse of the Jefferson nickel displays a rendition of "Monticello", Jefferson's Charlottesville home. Below the house is the word "MONTICELLO", just above "FIVE CENTS" printed in a downward arc. "E PLURIBUS UNUM" arcs along the top of the reverse, while "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" arcs along the bottom.
The coin was designed by Felix Schlag, and beginning in 1966, his initials appear near the bottom of the coin on the obverse.
This particular coin is the only modern coin which is still made up of its original composition - in this case, 25% nickel and 75% copper. The only time this composition was modified was during the years of 1942-1945, when nickel was mandated for the government for wartime use. During this period, the Jefferson nickel was composed of 56% copper, 35% Silver, and 9% Manganese.
United States Coinage