Dime (United States coin)
Overview
 
The dime is a coin
United States coinage
United States coinage was first minted by the new republic in 1792. New coins have been produced every year since then and they make up a valuable aspect of the United States currency system. Today circulating coins exist in denominations: $0.01, $0.05, $0.10, $0.25, $0.50, and $1.00. Also minted...

 10 cents
Cent (currency)
In many national currencies, the cent is a monetary unit that equals 1⁄100 of the basic monetary unit. Etymologically, the word cent derives from the Latin word "centum" meaning hundred. Cent also refers to a coin which is worth one cent....

, one tenth of a United States dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

, labeled formally as "one dime". The denomination was first authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792. The dime is the smallest in diameter
Diameter
In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. The diameters are the longest chords of the circle...

 and is the thinnest of all U.S. coins currently minted for circulation.
The term dime comes from old French "disme", meaning "tithe
Tithe
A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products...

" or "tenth part", from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 decima [pars]. The Coinage Act of 1792 established the dime (spelled "disme" in the legislation), cent, and mill
Mill (currency)
The mill or mille is a now-abstract unit of currency used sometimes in accounting. In the United States, it is a notional unit equivalent to of a United States dollar...

 as subdivisions of the dollar equal to , and dollar respectively, though today the term "dime" is only used to refer to the coin, rather than a unit of value.

The first known proposal for a decimal-based coinage system in the United States was made in 1783 by Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, and David Rittenhouse
David Rittenhouse
David Rittenhouse was a renowned American astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official...

.
Encyclopedia
The dime is a coin
United States coinage
United States coinage was first minted by the new republic in 1792. New coins have been produced every year since then and they make up a valuable aspect of the United States currency system. Today circulating coins exist in denominations: $0.01, $0.05, $0.10, $0.25, $0.50, and $1.00. Also minted...

 10 cents
Cent (currency)
In many national currencies, the cent is a monetary unit that equals 1⁄100 of the basic monetary unit. Etymologically, the word cent derives from the Latin word "centum" meaning hundred. Cent also refers to a coin which is worth one cent....

, one tenth of a United States dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

, labeled formally as "one dime". The denomination was first authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792. The dime is the smallest in diameter
Diameter
In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. The diameters are the longest chords of the circle...

 and is the thinnest of all U.S. coins currently minted for circulation.

Denomination history and etymology

The term dime comes from old French "disme", meaning "tithe
Tithe
A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products...

" or "tenth part", from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 decima [pars]. The Coinage Act of 1792 established the dime (spelled "disme" in the legislation), cent, and mill
Mill (currency)
The mill or mille is a now-abstract unit of currency used sometimes in accounting. In the United States, it is a notional unit equivalent to of a United States dollar...

 as subdivisions of the dollar equal to , and dollar respectively, though today the term "dime" is only used to refer to the coin, rather than a unit of value.

The first known proposal for a decimal-based coinage system in the United States was made in 1783 by Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, and David Rittenhouse
David Rittenhouse
David Rittenhouse was a renowned American astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official...

. Hamilton, the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

, recommended the issuance of six such coins in 1791, in a report to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. Among the six was a silver coin, "which shall be, in weight and value, one tenth part of a silver unit or dollar".

From 1796 to 1837, dimes were composed of 89.24 percent silver and 10.76 percent copper,. the value of which required the coins to be very small to prevent their intrinsic value
Intrinsic value (numismatics)
In commodity money, intrinsic value can be partially or entirely due to the desirable features of the object as a medium of exchange and a store of value. Examples of such features include divisibility; easily and securely storable and transportable; scarcity; and hard to counterfeit...

 being worth more than face value
Face value
The Face value is the value of a coin, stamp or paper money, as printed on the coin, stamp or bill itself by the minting authority. While the face value usually refers to the true value of the coin, stamp or bill in question it can sometimes be largely symbolic, as is often the case with bullion...

. The composition was altered slightly in 1837 with the introduction of the Seated Liberty dime; the silver content was increased to 90 percent, while the copper content was reduced to 10 percent. To maintain the intrinsic value of the new dime, its diameter was reduced from 18.8 millimeters (0.740 inch) to its current figure of 17.9 millimeters (0.705 inch).

With the passage of the Coinage Act of 1965
Coinage Act of 1965
The Coinage Act of 1965, , eliminated silver from the circulating dimes and quarter dollars of the United States, and diminished the silver content of the half dollar from 90% to 40%...

, the dime's silver content was removed. Dimes from 1965 to the present are composed of outer layers of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel, bonded to a pure copper core. Starting in 1992, the U.S. Mint began issuing Silver Proof Sets
Proof coinage
Proof coinage means special early samples of a coin issue, historically made for checking the dies and for archival purposes, but nowadays often struck in greater numbers specially for coin collectors . Many countries now issue them....

 annually, which contain dimes composed of the pre-1965 standard of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. These sets are intended solely for collectors, and are not meant for general circulation.

Design history

Since its introduction in 1796, the dime has been issued in six different major types, excluding the 1792 "disme". The name for each type (except for the Barber dime) indicates the design on the coin's obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

.
  • Draped Bust
    Draped bust
    "Draped Bust" was the name given to a design of United States coins. It appeared on much of the regular-issue copper and silver United States coinage from 1795-1808. The denominations that featured the Draped Bust design included the half cent.-Basic design:...

     1796–1807
  • Capped Bust 1809–1837
  • Seated Liberty
    United States Seated Liberty coinage
    The Seated Liberty designs appeared on most regular-issue silver United States coinage during the mid- and late-nineteenth century, from 1836 through 1891. The denominations which featured the Seated Liberty design included the half dime, the dime, the quarter, the half dollar, and until 1873 the...

     1837–1891
  • Barber
    United States Barber coinage
    Liberty Head designs appeared on United States minor silver coinage from 1892 to 1916. They derive their common name from their designer, Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber.-Origins:...

     1892–1916
  • Winged Liberty Head (Mercury)
    Mercury dime
    The Mercury dime is a ten-cent coin struck by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1945. Designed by Adolph Weinman and also known as the Winged Liberty dime, it gained its common name as the obverse depiction of a young Liberty, identifiable by her winged Phrygian cap, was confused with the Roman...

     1916–1945
  • Roosevelt 1946–present

"Disme" (1792)

The Coinage Act of 1792, passed on April 2, 1792, authorized the mintage of a "disme", one-tenth the silver weight and value of a dollar. The composition of the disme was set at 89.24 percent silver and 10.76 percent copper. In 1792, a limited number of dismes were minted but never circulated. Some of these were struck in copper, indicating that the 1792 dismes were in fact pattern coin
Pattern coin
A pattern coin is a coin which has not been approved for release, produced for the purpose of evaluating a proposed coin design. They are often off-metal strikes, to proof standard or piedforts...

s. The first dimes minted for circulation did not appear until 1796, due to a lack of demand for the coin and production problems at the United States Mint
United States Mint
The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act of 1792, and placed within the Department of State...

.

Draped Bust (1796–1807)

The first dime to be circulated was the Draped Bust dime, in 1796. It featured the same obverse and reverse as all other circulating coins of the time, the so-called Draped Bust/Small Eagle design. This design was the work of then-Chief Engraver Robert Scot
Robert Scot
Robert Scot was the first Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from its inception in 1793 until his death in 1823. He was succeeded by William Kneass.-Early life:...

. The portrait of Liberty on the obverse was based on a Gilbert Stuart
Gilbert Stuart
Gilbert Charles Stuart was an American painter from Rhode Island.Gilbert Stuart is widely considered to be one of America's foremost portraitists...

 drawing of prominent Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

 socialite Ann Willing Bingham, wife of noted American statesman William Bingham
William Bingham
William Bingham was an American statesman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788 and served in the United States Senate from 1795 to 1801...

. The reverse design is of a small Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle...

 surrounded by palm and olive branches, and perched on a cloud. Since the Coinage Act of 1792 required only that the cent and half cent
Half cent (United States coin)
First authorized on April 2, 1792 , the half cent coin was produced in the United States from 1793-1857. The half-cent piece was made of 100% copper. It was slightly smaller than a modern U.S. quarter. Diameters are: 22 mm , 23.5 mm and 23 mm ., Coinage was discontinued by the Act...

 display their denomination
Denomination (currency)
Denomination is a proper description of a currency amount, usually for coins or banknotes. Denominations may also be used with other means of payment like gift cards. See also Redenomination.-Subunit and super unit:...

, Draped Bust dimes were minted with no indication of their value.

All 1796 dimes have 15 stars on the obverse, representing the number of U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s then in the Union. The first 1797 dimes were minted with 16 stars, reflecting Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

's admission as the 16th state. Realizing that the practice of adding one star per state could quickly clutter the coin's design, U.S. Mint Director Elias Boudinot
Elias Boudinot
Elias Boudinot was a lawyer and statesman from Elizabeth, New Jersey who was a delegate to the Continental Congress and a U.S. Congressman for New Jersey...

 ordered a design alteration, to feature just 13 stars (for the original Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

). Therefore, 1797 dimes can be found with either 13 or 16 stars.

Also designed by Robert Scot, the Heraldic Eagle reverse design made its debut in 1798. The obverse continued from the previous series, but the eagle on the reverse was changed from the widely criticized "scrawny" hatchling to a scaled-down version of the Great Seal of the United States
Great Seal of the United States
The Great Seal of the United States is used to authenticate certain documents issued by the United States federal government. The phrase is used both for the physical seal itself , and more generally for the design impressed upon it...

. The Draped Bust/Heraldic Eagles series continued through 1807 (although no dimes dated 1799 or 1806 were minted). Both Draped Bust designs were composed of 89.24 percent silver and 10.76 percent copper.

Capped Bust (1809–1837)

The Draped Bust design was succeeded by the Capped Bust, designed by Mint Assistant Engraver John Reich. Both the obverse and reverse were changed extensively. The new reverse featured a Bald Eagle grasping three arrows (symbolizing strength) and an olive branch (symbolizing peace). Covering the eagle's breast is a U.S. shield with six horizontal lines and 13 vertical stripes. Also on the reverse is the lettering "10C," making it the only dime minted with the value given in cents (subsequent issues are inscribed with the words "ONE DIME"). There are 122 varieties known of Capped Bust Dimes.

Seated Liberty (1837–1891)

Christian Gobrecht
Christian Gobrecht
Christian Gobrecht was the third Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1835 until his death in 1844. He was responsible for designing the famous "Seated Liberty" designs, which were in turn the direct inspiration for the design of the Trade Dollar...

 completed the design of this dime, whose obverse was used with every circulating silver U.S. coin of the period. Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson requested a new coin design, to be reminiscent of the Britannia
Britannia
Britannia is an ancient term for Great Britain, and also a female personification of the island. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Great Britain. However, by the...

 image found on coinage of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

. Chief Engraver William Kneass
William Kneass
William Kneass was the second Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1824 until his death in 1840. Kneass designed the Classic Head motif which appeared on Quarter Eagle and Half Eagle gold pieces from 1834-1839. He also modified John Reich's Capped Bust design on the dime through...

 drew the original sketches, but suffered a stroke and was too ill to finish them or to oversee preparation of the dies. The task then fell to Gobrecht, who was promoted to Second Engraver.

The obverse features an image of Liberty sitting on a rock, wearing a dress and holding a staff with a liberty cap
Pileus (hat)
The pileus — also pilleus or pilleum — was a cap worn by sailors in Ancient Greece and later copied by Ancient Rome. It was a brimless, felt cap, somewhat similar to a fez...

 on top. Her right hand is balancing a shield with the inscription "LIBERTY." The reverse featured the inscription "ONE DIME," surrounded by a wreath. All Seated Liberty dimes contain 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper, and are 17.9 millimeters (0.705 inch) in diameter. This size and metal composition would continue until 1965, when silver was permanently removed from circulating dimes.

There were several minor varieties during the Seated Liberty's run. The initial design (1837) had no stars on the obverse and, further, the dates were minted in a Large Date and Small Date variety. These two types can be distinguished by noting the "3" and the "7" in the date. In the Large Date variety, the "3" has a pointed serif
Serif
In typography, serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface . A typeface without serifs is called sans serif or sans-serif, from the French sans, meaning “without”...

 at top, and the horizontal element of the "7" is straight. In the Small Date variety, the "3" has a rounded serif, and there is small a knob, or bulge, in the "7" horizontal element. Only the Philadelphia Mint made both varieties. The Small Date is slightly rarer. The New Orleans Mint also made the Seated Liberty Dime in this year, but only in the Small Date variety.

Thirteen stars (symbolizing the 13 original colonies) were added to the perimeter of the obverse in 1838. These were replaced with the legend "United States of America," which was moved from the reverse in mid-1860. At the same time, the laurel wreath on the reverse was changed to a wreath of corn, wheat, maple, and oak leaves and expanded nearly to the rim of the coin. This reverse design continued through the end of the series in 1891 and was changed only slightly in 1892, when the Barber dime debuted. Another variety is the 1838–40 dime minted with no drapery underneath the left elbow of Liberty.

Arrows at the date in 1853 and 1873 indicated changes made in the coin's mass
Mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

 (from 2.67 gram
Gram
The gram is a metric system unit of mass....

s to 2.49 grams in 1853, then to 2.50 grams in 1873). The first change was made in response to rising silver prices, while the latter alteration was brought about by the Mint Act of 1873
Fourth Coinage Act
The Fourth Coinage Act was enacted by the United States Congress in 1873 and embraced the gold standard and demonetized silver. Western mining interests and others who wanted silver in circulation years later labeled this measure the "Crime of '73"...

 which, in an attempt to make U.S. coinage the currency of the world, added a small amount of mass to the dime, quarter, and half-dollar to bring their weights in line with fractions of the French 5-franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

 piece.

This produced the greatest rarities in the Seated Dime Series, the 1873 & 1874 Carson City Dimes, with arrows and the unique 1873 Carson City Dime without arrows.

Barber (1892–1916)

The Barber dime is named for its designer, Charles E. Barber
Charles E. Barber
Charles Edward Barber was the sixth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1879 until his death in 1917. He succeeded his father, William Barber, in the position...

, who was Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint from 1879 to 1917. The design was shared with the quarter
Quarter (United States coin)
A quarter dollar, commonly shortened to quarter, is a coin worth ¼ of a United States dollar, or 25 cents. The quarter has been produced since 1796. The choice of 25¢ as a denomination, as opposed to 20¢ which is more common in other parts of the world, originated with the practice of dividing...

 and half-dollar
Half dollar (United States coin)
Half dollar coins have been produced nearly every year since the inception of the United States Mint in 1794. Sometimes referred to as the fifty-cent piece, the only U.S. coin that has been minted more consistently is the cent.-Circulation:...

 of the same period. Extensive internal politics surrounded the awarding of the design job, which had initially been opened to the public. A four-member committee (which included Barber), appointed by then-Mint Director James Kimball, accorded only two of more than 300 submissions an honorable mention. Kimball's successor, Edward O. Leech, decided to dispense with the committees and public design competitions and simply instructed Barber to develop a new design. It has been speculated that this is what Barber had wanted all along.

The Barber dime, as with all previous dimes, featured an image of Liberty on the obverse. She is wearing a Phrygian cap
Phrygian cap
The Phrygian cap is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward, associated in antiquity with the inhabitants of Phrygia, a region of central Anatolia. In the western provinces of the Roman Empire it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty, perhaps through a confusion with the pileus,...

, a laurel wreath
Laurel wreath
A laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel , an aromatic broadleaf evergreen. In Greek mythology, Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head...

 with a ribbon, and a headband with the inscription "LIBERTY". This inscription is one of the key elements used in determining the condition of Barber dimes. Liberty's portrait was inspired by two sources—French coins and medals of the period, as well as ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 sculpture
Classical sculpture
Classical sculpture refers to the forms of sculpture from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as well as the Hellenized and Romanized civilizations under their rule or influence from about 500 BC to fall of Rome in AD 476. It also refers stylistically to modern sculptures done in a classical style....

. The obverse also contains the long-used 13 stars (for the 13 colonies) design element. The reverse contained a wreath and inscription almost identical to the one used on the final design of the Seated Liberty dime. While circulated coins of the entire series are readily available to collectors there is one outstanding rarity, the 1894-S Barber Dime
1894-S Barber Dime
The 1894-S Barber Dime is a dime produced in the United States Barber coinage. It has been compared to the 1804 Silver Dollar and the 1913 Liberty Nickel. It is one of the most highly prized United States coins for collectors. One was sold in 2005 for 1.3 million dollars. Another was sold in...

. Twenty-four were minted, with 9 currently known.

Winged Liberty Head ("Mercury") (1916–1945)

Although most commonly referred to as the "Mercury" dime, the coin does not depict the Roman
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 messenger god
Mercury (mythology)
Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

. The obverse figure is a depiction of the mythological goddess Liberty
Liberty (goddess)
Goddesses named for and representing the concept Liberty have existed in many cultures, including classical examples dating from the Roman Empire and some national symbols such as the British "Britannia" or the Irish "Kathleen Ni Houlihan"....

 wearing a Phrygian cap
Phrygian cap
The Phrygian cap is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward, associated in antiquity with the inhabitants of Phrygia, a region of central Anatolia. In the western provinces of the Roman Empire it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty, perhaps through a confusion with the pileus,...

, a classic Western symbol of liberty and freedom, with its wings intended to symbolize freedom of thought. Designed by noted sculptor Adolph A. Weinman
Adolph Alexander Weinman
Adolph Alexander Weinman was an American sculptor, born in Karlsruhe, Germany.- Biography :Weinman arrived in the United States at the age of 10. At the age of 15, he attended evening classes at Cooper Union and later studied at the Art Students League of New York with sculptors Augustus St....

, the Winged Liberty Head dime is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful U.S. coin designs ever produced. The composition (90 percent silver, 10 percent copper) and diameter (17.9 millimeters) of the "Mercury" dime was unchanged from the Barber dime.

Weinman (who had studied under Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the Irish-born American sculptor of the Beaux-Arts generation who most embodied the ideals of the "American Renaissance"...

) won a 1915 competition against two other artists for the design job, and is thought to have modeled his version of Liberty on Elsie Kachel Stevens, wife of noted poet Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and spent most of his life working as a lawyer for the Hartford insurance company in Connecticut.His best-known poems include "Anecdote of the Jar",...

. The reverse design, a fasces
Fasces
Fasces are a bundle of wooden sticks with an axe blade emerging from the center, which is an image that traditionally symbolizes summary power and jurisdiction, and/or "strength through unity"...

 juxtaposed with an olive branch, was intended to symbolize America's readiness for war, combined with its desire for peace. The fasces symbol was later officially adopted by Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 and his National Fascist Party
National Fascist Party
The National Fascist Party was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism...

, though this was the fourth party with a name invoking the fasces(in Italian:fascio
Fascio
Fascio, plural -sci /'faʃʃo, ʃi/ is an Italian word literally meaning "a bundle" or "a sheaf", and figuratively league, and which was used in the late 19th century to refer to political groups of many different orientations...

) to which Mussolini had belonged. The symbol was also common in American iconography and has generally avoided any stigma associated with its usage in wartime Italy.

The 1916-D issue of only 264,000 coins is highly sought after, due largely to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the dimes struck at the Denver Mint
Denver Mint
The Denver Mint is a branch of the United States Mint that struck its first coins on February 1, 1906. The mint is still operating and producing coins for circulation, as well as mint sets and commemorative coins. Coins produced at the Denver Mint bear a D mint mark...

 in 1916 carried the pre-existing Barber design. Thus, the 1916-D is worth up to thousands of dollars if it is in relatively fine condition. A considerable number of common 1916 Philadelphia mint dimes have been altered with a "D" added, so buyers should be careful to purchase only from reputable dealers or to accept only sealed and graded coins.

Many coins in the "Mercury" series exhibit striking defects, most notably the fact that the line separating the two horizontal bands in the center of the fasces is often missing, in whole or in part; the 1945 issue of the Philadelphia Mint
Philadelphia Mint
The Philadelphia Mint was created from the need to establish a national identity and the needs of commerce in the United States. This led the Founding Fathers of the United States to make an establishment of a continental national mint a main priority after the ratification of the Constitution of...

 hardly ever appears with this line complete from left to right, and as a result, such coins are worth more than usual for uncirculated specimens. A valuable variety is an overdate, where 1942 was stamped over a 1941 die at the Philadelphia mint. A less obvious example from the same year is from the Denver mint.

Of particular interest to numismatics
Numismatics
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the...

 is the condition of the horizontal bands tying together the bundle on the fasces, on the coin's reverse. On well-struck examples, separation exists within the two sets of bands (known as Full Split Bands). Coins exhibiting this feature are typically valued higher than those without it.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1946–present)

Soon after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 in 1945, legislation was introduced by Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 Congressman Ralph H. Daughton
Ralph Hunter Daughton
Ralph Hunter Daughton was a U.S. Representative from Virginia.Born in Washington, D.C., Daughton attended public and private schools in Washington, D.C., and Prince Georges County, Maryland....

 that called for the replacement of the Mercury dime with one bearing Roosevelt's image. The dime was chosen to honor Roosevelt partly due to his efforts in the founding of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (later renamed the March of Dimes
March of Dimes
The March of Dimes Foundation is a United States nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies.-Organization:...

), which originally raised money for polio
Poliomyelitis
Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an acute viral infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route...

 research and to aid victims of the disease and their families. The public had been urged to send in a dime to the Foundation, and by Roosevelt's death, the Foundation was already popularly known as the "March of Dimes."

Due to the limited amount of time available to design the new coin, the Roosevelt dime was the first regular-issue U.S. coin designed by a Mint employee in more than 40 years. Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock
John R. Sinnock
John Ray Sinnock was the eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint and designer of the Roosevelt dime and Franklin half dollar, among other U.S. coins. His initials "JS" on the dime can be found at the base of the Roosevelt bust...

 was chosen, as he had already designed a Mint presidential medal of Roosevelt. Sinnock's first design, submitted on October 12, 1945, was rejected, but a subsequent one was accepted on January 6, 1946.

The dime was released to the public on January 30, 1946, which would have been Roosevelt's 64th birthday. Sinnock's design placed his initials ("JS") at the base of Roosevelt's neck, on the coin's obverse. His reverse design elements of a torch, olive branch, and oak branch symbolized, respectively, liberty, peace, and victory.

Controversy immediately ensued, as strong anti-Communist
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 sentiment in the United States led to the circulation of rumors that the "JS" engraved on the coin was the initials of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, placed there by a Soviet agent in the mint. The Mint quickly issued a statement denying this, confirming that the initials were indeed Sinnock's.

Another controversy surrounding Sinnock's design involves his image of Roosevelt. Soon after the coin's release, it was claimed that Sinnock borrowed his design of Roosevelt from a bas relief created by African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 sculptor Selma Burke
Selma Burke
Selma Hortense Burke was an American sculptor.Born in Mooresville, North Carolina to a farming family, she demonstrated an early interest in art. Her parents insisted she study a more marketable profession, and she graduated from the St. Agnes Training School for Nurses in Raleigh in 1924...

, unveiled at the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington D.C. in September 1945. Sinnock denied this, claiming that he simply utilized his earlier design on the Roosevelt medal.

With the passage of the Coinage Act of 1965
Coinage Act of 1965
The Coinage Act of 1965, , eliminated silver from the circulating dimes and quarter dollars of the United States, and diminished the silver content of the half dollar from 90% to 40%...

, the composition of the dime changed from 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper to a clad "sandwich" of pure copper inner layer between two outer layers of
cupronickel
Cupronickel
Cupronickel or copper-nickel or "cupernickel" is an alloy of copper that contains nickel and strengthening elements, such as iron and manganese. Cupronickel is highly resistant to corrosion in seawater, because its electrode potential is adjusted to be neutral with regard to seawater...

 (75% Copper, 25% Nickel) alloy giving a total composition of 91.67% Cu
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 and 8.33% Ni
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

.
This composition was selected because it gave similar mass (now 2.268 grams instead of 2.5 grams) and electrical properties (important in vending machine
Vending machine
A vending machine is a machine which dispenses items such as snacks, beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, consumer products and even gold and gems to customers automatically, after the customer inserts currency or credit into the machine....

s)—and most importantly, because it contained no precious metal.

Soon after the change of composition, silver dimes (as well as silver quarters and half dollars) began to disappear from circulation, as people receiving them in change hoarded them (see Gresham's law
Gresham's Law
Gresham's law is an economic principle that states: "When a government compulsorily overvalues one type of money and undervalues another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear from circulation into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood into circulation." It is commonly...

). Although now rare in circulation, silver dimes may occasionally turn up in customers' change. In the late 1970s, the Hunt Brothers cornered the worldwide silver market and drove the price far above its historic levels, intensifying the extraction of remaining silver coins from circulation.

Starting in 1992, the U.S. Mint reintroduced silver coins in its annual collectors sets. This included a 90 percent silver proof Roosevelt Dime, Washington Quarter(s)
50 State Quarters
The 50 State Quarters program is the release of a series of circulating commemorative coins by the United States Mint. Between 1999 and 2008, it featured each of the 50 U.S. states on unique designs for the reverse of the quarter....

 and Kennedy Half Dollar
Half dollar (United States coin)
Half dollar coins have been produced nearly every year since the inception of the United States Mint in 1794. Sometimes referred to as the fifty-cent piece, the only U.S. coin that has been minted more consistently is the cent.-Circulation:...

, a series that continues today.

Since 1946 the Roosevelt dime has been minted every year. Through 1955, all three mints, Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco produced circulating coinage; production at San Francisco ended in 1955, resuming in 1968 with proof coinage only. Through 1964 "D" and "S" mintmarks can be found to the left of the torch. From 1968, the mintmarks have appeared above the date. None were used in 1965–67, and Philadelphia did not show a mintmark until 1980 (in 1982, an error left the "P" off a small number of dimes, which are now valuable). To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the design, the 1996 mint sets included a "W" mintmarked dime made at the West Point Mint
West Point Mint
The West Point Mint Facility was erected in 1937 near the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. Originally it was called the West Point Bullion Depository. At one point it had the highest concentration of silver of any U.S. mint facility, and for 35 years produced circulating pennies...

. A total of 1,457,000 dimes were issued in the sets.

In 2003, a group of conservative
American conservatism
Conservatism in the United States has played an important role in American politics since the 1950s. Historian Gregory Schneider identifies several constants in American conservatism: respect for tradition, support of republicanism, preservation of "the rule of law and the Christian religion", and...

 Republicans
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 in Congress proposed removing Roosevelt's image from the dime, and replacing it with that of President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, although he was still alive. Legislation to this effect was introduced in November 2003 by Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 Representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Mark Souder
Mark Souder
Mark Edward Souder is an American Republican politician who was a U.S. Representative from Indiana from 1995 to 2010.During the 1980s and early 1990s, he worked as a congressional aide to Dan Coats and committee staff director. He was elected to his congressional seat in 1994...

. Among the more notable opponents of the legislation was Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan
Nancy Davis Reagan is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989....

, who in December 2003 stated that, "When our country chooses to honor a great president such as Franklin Roosevelt by placing his likeness on our currency, it would be wrong to remove him." After President Reagan's death in June 2004, the proposed legislation gained additional support. Souder, however, stated that he was not going to pursue the legislation any further. 2009 saw the lowest dime production since 1955 with just 146,000,000 dimes being made.

External links

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