The first 5 Cent nickel was the Shield Nickel minted in 1866. The obverse of the Shield Nickel had a very similar design to the 2 Cent Piece and was changed in 1883 to the Liberty Head design, sometimes referred to as a V nickel. The first variety of these were very popular with con artists as they failed to have the word "cents" anywhere. They resembled a $5 gold piece when plated and often they were passed as such, earning the name Racketeer Nickel. This was quickly corrected and the word "cents" was added.
The next design was the most popular design of any nickel and some will argue any American coin ever minted, the Buffalo Nickel. Many rumors have circulated about the design of the Indian on the obverse, in face it was a compilation of 3 different Indian models. Even people who aren't coin collectors love the Buffalo Nickel, even the ones with only 3 legs. In 1938, the U.S. changed the nickel to the current Jefferson Nickel.