As explained by the American Numismatic Association, the US Mint has been producing the coinage of the United States since the country was founded more than two hundred years ago.
At first, the mint was only supposed to produce coins domestically, but before long the US Mint was producing coins and paper money for various countries all over the world.
Development of Coinage
Through the years, and through the production of all kinds of coins, there are certain designs that resonate a little more with collectors than other designs. One of those designs is that of the Mercury Dime, which started to be produced during the first half of the 20th century.
Even though these coins are no longer being minted, they are still available and they are still quite popular with many coin collectors. Putting together a complete set of Mercury Dimes seems a little daunting, but it can be done with a little bit of knowledge of how the coins came into existence.
The War Effort and Metals
During World War II, valuable materials like munitions and shell casings that were directly related to the war effort required a lot of precious metal to make. This is why some of these coins tend to be regarded as more valuable than many of the coins from other years.
Metal was not the only commodity that became crucial to the war effort. During that time, consumers conserved gasoline as well as food like sugar, meat, cooking oil, and all types of canned goods. Critical goods like these were rationed using coupon books issued by the government.
Using the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale
The Sheldon Coin Grading Scale is a system of grading designed by William Herbert Sheldon. It is a 70-point coin grading scale that can be used to assess the numismatic value of any coin. The American Numismatic Association has now based its Official ANA Grading Standards mostly on the Sheldon scale. You should always refer to the Sheldon scale when you are trying to get an idea of the value of your coin.
In addition, the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation offers coin collectors these broad grading guidelines:
- Poor: Coin rims are flat or damaged and details are indistinct.
- Fair: Some details are visible.
- Good: Details are visible but not perfect.
- Very good: All details are readable.
- Fine: Raised areas are sharp and distinct.
- Very fine: Coin is nearly perfect with just a little wear on the higher points of the design.
- Mint state: Coin is in the same state as it was struck.
Grading Each Type of 1942 Mercury Dime
When it comes to the Mercury Dime, the thing that many coin collectors care most about is the condition of the coin. Many of these coins are in poor shape after having been circulated for several decades. Although many Mercury Dimes are in poor condition, many more have been excellently preserved.
If you would like to know the exact condition of your coin, you can send it away to a third-party grading service (like the Professional Coin Grading Service or PCGS) to get all of the coins in your collection further authenticated. If you don’t have the time and money to send your coin away for grading, here are a few specifications to help you understand what characteristics are tied to coins of specific grades.
A Mercury Dime graded as Uncirculated has spent no time exchanging hands and has never been damaged. These coins will appear pristine in their imagery and inscriptions. Even though these coins are decades old, Uncirculated Mercury Dimes will often resemble coins that were just recently minted.
Extremely Fine is the grade that is given to Mercury Dimes that have been circulated for only a small amount of time. Generally, the amount of damage found on these coins is going to be very light. In fact, any damage on one of the faces of the coin can often only be seen under close inspection with a magnifying glass.
A coin graded to be Fine has spent a lot of time being circulated, but it was taken out of heavy circulation before any real damage occurred. Even though you might be able to observe a lot of light scratching, the overall appearance of the coin will not be completely defaced by the amount of wear. Overall, Mercury Dimes graded as Fine are highly sought after by coin collectors of all types.
This is the grade that is given to Mercury Dimes that are in the worst conditions. These coins have spent a long time in circulation and there is a lot of resulting damage. Despite the poor condition of these coins, some collectors who want to piece together an entire set of Mercury Dimes as a dime series might still be interested in these types of coins.
Looking More Carefully at the 1942 Mercury Dime
If you are trying to get a better idea of what you might be asked to pay for a graded Mercury Dime, there are a few things you might want to consider. The condition of the coin means everything. If you have a well-preserved Mercury Dime, you can expect a higher price. Since there were up to three types of Mercury Dimes minted every year, the exact type of dime you have will also play a role in determining the price.
Mercury dimes are also known as Winged Liberty Head dimes. The US minted the 1942 dime with no mint mark and also the 1942 D dime and 1942 S dime. The mint mark, when it is present on the coin, can be found on the reverse side. A coin in circulated condition is worth at least its weight in silver.
1942 dimes with no mint marks can be worth about $3 in very fine condition. In extremely fine condition, the value would be about $3.25. In uncirculated condition, the price would be about $6 for coins with an MS 60 grade. Uncirculated coins with a grade of MS 65 can sometimes sell for about $30.
The 1942 D dime is also worth about $3 in very fine condition. In extremely fine condition, the value would be about $3.25. In uncirculated condition, the price would be about $6 for coins with an MS 60 grade. Uncirculated coins with a grade of MS 65 can sell for about $28.
The 1942 S dime is also worth about $3 in very fine condition. In extremely fine condition, the value would be about $3.25. In uncirculated condition, the price would be about $8 for coins with an MS 60 grade. Uncirculated coins with a grade of MS 65 can fetch about $30.
Proof coins with no mint mark can also sometimes be found and these coins are each valued at about $175 in PR 65 condition. There were only 22,329 proof coins that were ever minted. If you are so inclined, you can spend some time searching for 1942 dimes online at a site like eBay.
42 Over 41 Overlap Error
There is a rare overlap error that can be found on the 1942 dimes with no mint mark and also the 1942 D dimes. For these error coins, the numbers 2 and 4 overlap over the numbers 1 and 4. These error coins can often command higher values than coins that appear to be standard.
The 1942 dime with no mint mark 42 over 41 error coin can be worth about $550 in very fine condition. In extremely fine condition, the value can be about $650. In uncirculated condition, the price can be about $2,500 for coins with an MS 60 grade. Uncirculated coins with a grade of MS 65 can sell for up to $15,000.
The 1942 D dime 42 over 41 error coin is worth about $525 in very fine condition. In extremely fine condition, the value would be about $600. In uncirculated condition, the price is about $2,500 for coins with an MS 60 grade. Uncirculated D Mercury dimes with a grade of MS 65 can sometimes reach up to $10,000.
Some Other Valuable Dimes from 1942
All of the dimes that were produced in the US before 1965 have a silver content of 90%, so their melt value will always command prices that are many times their face value. When it comes to most of the dimes produced after 1964, they are worth only their face value, with a few exceptions. Always be sure to research the spot price of silver when you are going through your coin collection and trying to determine which of your coins might be the most valuable.
Dimes With Doubled Dies
If you happen to find a doubled die Roosevelt dime, take note that these coins are scarce collectibles that can be worth $20 to $50 or more. The more dramatic the doubled die, the more valuable the coin becomes. This is especially true if the doubling can be clearly seen with the naked eye. Doubled dies that can be seen only under high magnification are generally not very valuable at all.
Dimes With Off-Center Strikes
An off-center strike can be found in dimes in a few different ways. Either the retaining collar fails to deploy or the dies are misaligned. Off-center strikes of less than 5% are not usually worth big premiums. Strikes that are between 10% and 50% off-center can sometimes warrant coin values up to $100, but these values can even be a lot higher if the entire date is visible on the coin.
Dimes With Other Mint Errors
Most of the coins that people think are error coins can really just be classified as damaged coins. Still, there is a wide range of mint mistakes that are worth a premium price and rare dimes like these can sometimes be valuable. They range from only a few dollars to several hundred dollars when there are impressive die caps.
So many types of coinage that were once minted no longer survive in the world of numismatics, for some of the following reasons. There might have been production errors or very small quantities of the specific coin might have been made. For silver coins like the 1942 Mercury dime, a large percentage of them might have already been melted down and sold for the value of the precious metal.
Some Other Ways to Find Valuable Dimes
Generally, the most valuable dimes that you’ll find are the ones that are still in mint condition. Coins with the highest values all tend to be in the best condition possible because this is an especially attractive quality for many coin collectors and other coin specialists.
This means that it can be a little difficult to find valuable and rare dimes. It can be hard to go through all of your coins carefully to find some of the valuable ones. It can take a long time and you may find all kinds of coins that might look very impressive but are actually cheap imitations.
Some coin collectors limit the time they spend searching for valuable and rare dimes to only the coins passing through their hands, but there are better ways to find these collectible coins. You can check boxes or bankrolls that you can buy for face value from lots of banks.
Pricing Your Winged Liberty Head Dimes
Winged Liberty Head dimes are very scarce and hard to come by. They do, however, turn up now and then in circulation. There are a few rare business strikes, like the 1916-D, 1921, and 1921-D. There are also some other rare varieties, like the 1942/1 and 1942/1-D overdates, which we discussed briefly above.
All of these coins can be worth hundreds of dollars or more if they are in the type of condition that is desired. The D mintmark on these coins denotes the idea that they were minted at the Denver branch. The Philadelphia mint and the San Francisco mint coins are not the same as these Denver mints.
Be sure to always look for the D mintmark when you are thinking about the possible value of some of your coins. As mentioned above, the overall condition of your Winged Liberty Head dimes will always be an important factor in terms of their value.
Well-preserved coins and rare coins will often be able to command a significantly higher value in the numismatic world of coin collecting than similar coins that show a large amount of wear and tear or general damage. Be sure to remember that those types of damaged coins or US coins that have been graded lower on the Sheldon scale will be worth significantly less than you might think.
Damaged coins of any mintage are often only worth their face value to most coin dealers, even if they do happen to be Winged Liberty Head dimes.