APMEX offers a superb selection of Shield Nickels, the first nickel five-cent piece struck. Designed by James B. Longacre, the Shield Nickel was the first nickel five-cent piece struck by the United States Mint. The coins were struck in 1866 and continued until 1883. During the first two years of their minting (1866 and 1867), the coins were struck with rays between the stars on the reverse. This design was not well received and during production in 1867, the design was changed to eliminate the rays. The design of this coin is very similar to that of the 2-Cent Pieces of that era. Another interesting fact is the 13 rays and stars on the reverse represent the 13 original colonies.