While nickel makes up 0.007 per cent of the earth's crust and is today one of our most useful metals, it was virtually unknown until the 1600s and was not isolated as an element until 1751. Early chemists called it Kupfer-Nickel (kupfer for copper), because nickel was originally found in association with copper ores, and nickel, after the German "Old Nick" or Satan, because it was initially so difficult to extract from those ores.A modern and comprehensive document on the subject is the second edition of the classic CORROSION BASICS textbook.
Nickel is malleable, resists corrosion, and maintains its mechanical and physical characteristics under extreme temperatures. Once it was isolated and these valuable properties were recognized, nickel assumed a growing role in commerce and industry. By the early 1800s, nickel was being used to make a nickel-copper-zinc alloy, which could be silver plated. The technique of nickel plating was developed in about 1870. Moreover, the first pure nickel coin was struck in 1881. Each of these uses continues today.